A Cadaveric Morphometric Study of Lumbar Vertebrae in Zimbabwean Adult Males

  • Maimoona Khan University of Zimbabwe, Harare


Background: The occurrence of vertebral fractures and spinal cord injuries in developing countries in Africa is high with an annual incidence rate of 12.1 to 57.8 per million; 82.8% of these occurring in males and the most common causes being vehicle crushes (41.4%) and falls (34.9%)1. Treatment of vertebral fractures is aimed at stabilising a segment and then restoring its mobility thereby preventing nerve damage2. Violation of the pedicle walls during transpedicular screw fixation may occur if the screw diameter is too large or there is wrong placement3. Prevalence of pedicle wall violation using the “free hand” technique was reported to be 1.4%4.

Objective: To document the dimensions of the pedicles of lumbar vertebrae in the Zimbabwean population.

Study design: A descriptive cross-sectional study.

Place and duration of study: The study was conducted in the Gross Anatomy Laboratory of the Department of Anatomy, University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences, Harare. The duration of study was 6 months (from June 2019 to December 2019).

Material and Methods: A total of 15 adult male cadaveric specimens were taken from the Department of Anatomy at University of Zimbabwe. The lumbar vertebrae were dissected and their Pedicle Transverse Diameter (PTD), Pedicle Vertical Diameter (PVD) and the chord length were measured using a vernier calliper. Statistical calculations were performed using SPSS version 20.

Results: There was no significant difference between the pedicle dimensions of the right and left sides (P > 0.05). PTD steadily increases from vertebral level L1 to L4 followed by an abrupt increase at L5. PVD gradually decreases from L1 to L5 level. The chord length increases from a minimum at L1 to reach a maximum at L3 and then again decreases to L5 level.

Conclusion: Pedicle dimensions for the Zimbabwean population differ from those reported in previous studies for other population groups.

Key words: Chord length, Lumbar vertebrae, Pedicle dimensions.

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