In vitro measurement of pressure in intervertebral discs and annulus fibrosus with and without annular tears during discography

Sang Heon Lee, Richard Derby, Yeng Chen, Kwan Sik Seo, Mi Jung Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

40 Citations (Scopus)


Background context: Discogram studies have shown that pain reproduction correlates with the extent of annular disruption. However, it has not been assessed if pressure changes in the annulus fibrosus vary incrementally with intradiscal pressure. Purpose: To determine the relationship between intradiscal pressure and outer annular pressure during discography in intervertebral discs with and without annular tears. Study design: Intradiscal and periannular pressures were measured simultaneously in vitro during intradiscal injection in porcine cadaver spines. Methods: Twenty fresh porcine cadaver lumbar spines with intervening discs were tested. Intradiscal and periannular pressures were measured simultaneously using two pressure sensors during intradiscal contrast injection. The tip of a 25-gauge needle connected with a pressure manometer was placed in the center of the nucleus pulposus. A second pressure transducer was located at the outer third of the annulus fibrosus. Needle and transducer locations were confirmed by fluoroscopy. To compare the intact and torn annulus fibrosus, annular disruptions were created with a 20-gauge needle and confirmed by fluoroscopy. Results: During intradiscal injections of discs with an intact annulus, annulus fibrosus pressure remained low and a sharp increase in intradiscal pressure was observed. Significantly higher pressures were noted in the outer annulus in discs with annular tears (p<.01). Mean pressures at the central nucleus pulposus, the outer third of intact annuli and torn annuli were 93.4±40.9 psi, 14.8±1.9 psi and 85.7±24.8 psi, respectively. Conclusions Volumetric injection of intervertebral discs with a torn annulus fibrosis during discography may increase intra-annular pressure similar to the increase in pressure that may occur during spinal loading activities. This effect may not occur in discs with an intact annulus fibrosus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)614-618
Number of pages5
JournalSpine Journal
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2004 Nov 1
Externally publishedYes



  • Annular tear
  • Discography
  • Intradiscal pressure
  • Periannular pressure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology

Cite this