Relationship of spinal alignment with muscular volume and fat infiltration of lumbar trunk muscles

by Rafael Menezes-Reis, Gustavo Perazzoli Bonugli, Carlos Ernesto Garrido Salmon, Debora Mazoroski, Carlos Fernando Pereira da Silva Herrero, Marcello Henrique Nogueira-Barbosa

Fat infiltration and atrophy of lumbar muscles are related to spinal degenerative conditions and may cause functional deficits. Spinal alignment exerts biomechanical influence on lumbar intervertebral discs and joints. Our objective was to evaluate if spinopelvic parameters correlate with the lumbar muscle volume and fat infiltration. This is an observational, prospective and cross-sectional study. Ninety-three asymptomatic adult aged 20–40 years were included. Lumbar lordosis (LL), thoracic kyphosis (TK), pelvic incidence (PI), pelvic tilt (PT), sacral slope (SS), thoracolumbar alignment (TL), sagittal vertical axis (SVA), C2-pelvic angle (CPA), spinosacral angle (SSA), lack of lordosis (PI-LL), L1S1 and T1S1 length were measured on panoramic spine radiographs. Lumbar axial T1-weighted and In- and Out-Phase images were obtained on 1.5T MRI scanner and were used to extract the muscle volumes and fat fractions of multifidus, erector spinae, and psoas. All muscle volumes were higher in men than women (p<0.05). The fat fraction was higher in the multifidus and erector spinae in women (p<0.05). Multifidus volume was weakly correlated with PT (R = 0.22), PI (R = 0.22), LL (R = 0.34) and CPA (R = 0.29). Erectors spinae volume were correlated with CPA (R = 0.21). Psoas volume correlated with TK (R = 0.21), TL (R = 0.27) and SVA (R = -0.23). The lumbar muscle volumes showed a moderated correlation with T1S1 length (R = 0.55 to 0.62). Spinopelvic parameters showed correlation with lumbar muscle volumes but not with muscle fat infiltration on asymptomatic young adults.

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