What is the US prevalence of lumbar spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis?

Updated: Jul 08, 2020
  • Author: Beth B Froese, MD; Chief Editor: Stephen Kishner, MD, MHA  more...
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Wiltse and Beutler each reported an incidence of 6-7% for isthmic spondylolysis. [3, 6] Up to 5% of children aged 5-7 years have been found to have spondylolysis, many of whom are asymptomatic. The incidence increases up to the 7% by age 18. Athletic activities requiring repetitive hyperextension and rotation or repetitive combined flexion-extension predispose some athletes to developing pars defects. [7, 8, 9, 10] Gymnasts, linemen in college football, weight lifters, javelin throwers, pole-vaulters, and judoists are most commonly affected. [11, 12] Approximately 82% of cases of isthmic spondylolisthesis occur at L5-S1. [13] Another 11.3% occur at L4-L5. Congenital defects, including spina bifida occulta, have been linked to occurrence of isthmic spondylolisthesis. Scoliosis has been found to occur along with spondylolysis as well. [14] Roughly 50% of all cases of spondylolysis are not associated with spondylolisthesis.

Degenerative spondylolisthesis occurs more frequently with increasing age. The L4-L5 interspace is affected 6-10 more times than any other level. Sacralization of L5 is frequently seen with L4-5 degenerative spondylolisthesis.

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