gms | German Medical Science

63rd Annual Meeting of the German Society of Neurosurgery (DGNC)
Joint Meeting with the Japanese Neurosurgical Society (JNS)

German Society of Neurosurgery (DGNC)

13 - 16 June 2012, Leipzig

The lumbar spine during the migration period between 300 and 500 A.D. in Middle Germany shows natural degenerative changes – A computertomographic study

Meeting Abstract

  • P. Duenisch - Klinik für Neurochirurgie, Universitätsklinikum Jena, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
  • B. Leifer - Klinik für Neurochirurgie, Universitätsklinikum Jena, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
  • J. Walter - Klinik für Neurochirurgie, Universitätsklinikum Jena, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
  • P. Schmidt - Sektion für Neuroradiologie des Instituts für diagnostische und interventionelle Radiologie, Universitätsklinikum Jena, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
  • H. Bruchhaus - Sektion für Anthropology des Instituts für Humangenetik, Universitätsklinikum Jena, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
  • R. Kalff - Klinik für Neurochirurgie, Universitätsklinikum Jena, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
  • C. Ewald - Klinik für Neurochirurgie, Universitätsklinikum Jena, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgie. Japanische Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgie. 63. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgie (DGNC), Joint Meeting mit der Japanischen Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgie (JNS). Leipzig, 13.-16.06.2012. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2012. DocP 014

doi: 10.3205/12dgnc401, urn:nbn:de:0183-12dgnc4013

Published: June 4, 2012

© 2012 Duenisch et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Objective: Local back pain and degenerative changes of the lumbar spine are a challenging medical and socioeconomic problem. The complex pathoanatomical features leading to progressive bony degeneration of the vertebrae still remain unclear. To understand the possible influence of the environment on the degeneration process of the spine the definition of bony deformations in a historic population might be helpful.

Methods: 20 spinal columns from skeletons dated between 300 and 500 B.C., which were excavated from a burial ground in southern Anhalt were reconstructed and underwent CT scanning using a 64– detector row CT scanner (LightSpeed VCT; GE Medical Systems, Milwaukee, WI, USA) Spinal deformities were defined according to Felsenberg/Kalender followed by the calculation of the Johnson-Thomson-Quotient.

Results: All lumbar vertebrae were available in 17 cases. In 3 cases vertebral bodies were missing. Based on the Johnson Thompson Index we see a bony spinal stenosis throughout the whole lumbar spine in two cases. Five cases show up single level stenosis. In 10 cases there was no narrowing of the spinal canal. According to the index of Felsenberg/Kalender with a separate threshold for each vertebral body, we confirmed vertebral deformities at each lumbar level. The changes increase from LWK 1 to LWK 5. In 2 cases we saw the typical computertomographical features of an osteoporotic fracture.

Conclusions: With our study we could demonstrate for the first time that CT is an effective tool to assess degenerative changes of the spine in historical populations. As expected we found different degenerative changes showing that degeneration of the spine is not a “civilisation disease”. The next step now is to define age and sex of the deceased individuals using conventional anthropological marks like pelvis and teeth and compare them with the CT findings to evaluate the role of the spinal column and it’s CT for age and sex definition. Considering the historical background we want to compare our findings with a recent population to define the impact of the attendant social circumstances on the development of spinal deformities a little bit more.