Eur Spine J. 2023 Sep 18. doi: 10.1007/s00586-023-07933-9. Online ahead of print.
PURPOSE: The purpose of the study was to investigate several potential imaging biomarkers of CLBP that may be useful for diagnosis and treatment efficacy evaluation. Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS) was used to detect the content and ratio of creatine (Cr), choline (Cho), and lipid (Lip) in the multifidus muscle (Mm) in patients with CLBP and to test for relationships between these metabolites and pain severity and duration.
METHODS: Sixty patients with CLBP (experimental group) and sixty-nine asymptomatic volunteers (control group) underwent routine diagnostic magnetic resonance imaging of the lumbar spine. 1H-MRS was acquired with single-voxel MR spectroscopy. The MRS region of interest for measuring Cho, Cr, and Lip concentrations was determined at the L4/5 multifidus muscle (Mm), bilaterally. The contents and ratios of Cr, Cho, and Lip in bilateral and ipsilateral-to-pain (or matched control side) Mm were obtained, and the integral ratios of different metabolites obtained by using Cr as an internal reference were statistically analyzed.
RESULTS: There were no significant within-group differences in the contents and ratios of Lip, Cr, Cho, Lip/Cr, and Cho/Cr between the left and right Mm of the healthy control group (p > 0.05) or the CLBP group (p > 0.05). The CLBP group showed a much higher Lip and Lip/Cr ratio in the bilateral Mm compared to the healthy control group (p < 0.05) but there were no between-group differences in Cr, Cho, or the Cho/Cr ratio (p > 0.05). The severity of CLBP was correlated with Lip (p < 0.05).
CONCLUSION: Using 1H-MRS, we demonstrated higher Lip and Lip/Cr ratios in the Mm of patients with CLBP, compared to asymptomatic controls. Mm Lip was correlated with CLBP intensity. An increase in Lip in the Mm may be a characteristic finding in CLBP and may offer a useful prognostic marker for guiding rehabilitation strategies.