Current Issue - January/February 2018 - Vol 21 Issue 1


  1. 2018;21;73-82The Termination Level of the Dural Sac Relevant to Caudal Epidural Block in Lumbosacral Transitional Vertebrae: A Comparison between Sacralization and Lumbarization Groups
    Retrospective Study
    Ji Young Jeon, MD, Yu Mi Jeong, MD, Sheen-Woo Lee, MD, Jeong Ho Kim, MD, Hye-Young Choi, MD, and Yong Ahn, MD.

BACKGROUND: Lumbosacral transitional vertebrae (LSTV) are a relatively common variant and have been considered as one of the reasons for back pain. It is not unusual for clinicians to encounter patients with LSTV who require caudal epidural block (CEB) for pain management. 

OBJECTIVE: We investigated the termination level of the dural sac (DS) and anatomical features of the lumbosacral region relevant to CEB in patients with LSTV and compared these findings between sacralization and lumbarization groups.

STUDY DESIGN: A retrospective evaluation.

SETTING: A university hospital with inpatient and outpatient LSTV cases presenting low back pain. 

METHODS: Four hundred ninety-four LSTV patients were included and categorized into sacralization (n = 201) or lumbarization groups (n = 293). Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of all of the LSTV patients were reviewed to determine the level of DS termination, the shortest distance between the apex of the sacral hiatus and DS, and the presence and the caudal level of sacral perineural cysts. Each lumbosacral vertebra column was divided into 3 equal portions (upper, middle, and lower thirds). The MRI findings in both of the groups were compared and analyzed.

RESULTS: The distribution frequency of the levels of DS termination demonstrated a significant difference between the 2 groups. The mean caudal DS level in the lumbarization group was significantly lower than the sacralization group (lower third of the S2 [131 {44.7%} of 293 patients] vs. lower third of the S1 [78 {38.8%} of 201 patients]). The DS terminated at the S3 in more than 19% of the lumbarization group, whereas in only one case of the sacralization group. Although the incidence of perineural cysts was not significantly different between the 2 groups, the mean level of caudal margin of perineural cysts in the lumbarization group was significantly lower than the sacralization group (middle third of the S3 [10 {35.7%} of 28 cases] vs. middle third of the S2 [11 {44%} of 25 cases]).

LIMITATIONS: This study reveals several limitations including the practical challenge of accurate enumeration of the transitional segment and the constraints on generalizability posed by the single-country study.

CONCLUSION: When planning CEB for patients with LSTV, pre-procedural MRI to check the anatomical structures, including the level of DS termination and caudal margin of perineural cysts, would be of great use for lowering the risk of unexpected dural puncture during the procedure, especially in the lumbarization cases.

KEY WORDS: Termination of the dural sac, dural sac termination, lumbosacral transitional vertebrae, transitional vertebra, caudal epidural block