European spine journal : official publication of the European Spine Society, the European Spinal Deformity Society, and the European Section of the Cervical Spine Research Society 2016 11 24()
To compare MRI-defined back muscle volume between AS patients and age, and spinopelvic alignment matched control patients with chronic back pain.
51 male patients with AS were enrolled. Age and spinopelvic alignment matched controls (male) were found among non-AS patients with chronic back pain. After matching procedure, fully matched controls were found in 31 of 51 AS patients (60.8%), who represent AS patients without deformity. However, matched controls were not found in 20 of 51 AS patients (39.2%), who represent AS patients with deformity. MRI parameters of back muscle (paraspinal muscle and psoas muscle) at L4/5 disc level including cross-sectional area (CSA) and fat-free cross-sectional area (FCSA) were compared between AS patients and matched controls. Covariates, including BMI, self-reported physical activity, and the presence of chronic disease, which can influence back muscle volume, were also investigated.
There were no statistical differences in age, body mass index, score of back pain (NRS), and spinopelvic alignment, and physical activity between matched AS patients and control patients except for duration of back pain. All MRI parameters for paraspinal muscle volume in matched AS patients (without deformity) were significantly less than those of control patients, and significantly larger than those of non-matched AS patients (with deformity). Body size adjusted MRI parameters (relative CSA and relative FCSA) of paraspinal muscle showed strong correlations with lumbar lordosis and sacral slope. Such relationship between paraspinal muscle and spinopelvic parameters remained significant even after multivariate adjustment.
AS patients without deformity already have decreased paraspinal muscle volume compared with age and spinopelvic alignment matched non-AS patients with chronic back pain. Such decrease in paraspinal muscle volume was significantly associated with kyphotic deformity of AS patients even after multivariate adjustment. Although the result of our study supports the causal relationship between muscle degeneration and kyphotic deformity in AS patients, further study is required to prove the causality.