Baastrup syndrome (also referred to as kissing spines) results from adjacent spinous processes in the lumbar spine rubbing against each other and resulting in focal midline pain and tenderness relieved by flexion and aggravated by extension.
It tends to be more common in the elderly1.
This process can result in a degenerative hypertrophy, inflammatory change (as seen in case 1) and even a pseudarthrosis with bursa formation. This interspinous bursa may extend between the ligamentum flavae in the midline forming an epidural cyst and further contributing to the already existing canal stenosis 2.
This condition is usually seen patients with excessive lordosis of the lumbar spine.
Plain film and CT
- often shows close approximation and contact of adjacent spinous processes (kissing spines)
- there is resultant enlargement, flattening and reactive sclerosis of apposing interspinous surfaces.
May demonstrate interspinous bursal fluid and a postero-central epidural cyst(s). MRI can be very helpful in determining whether there is resulting posterior compression of the thecal sac.
may demonstrate FDG-avidity when associated with inflammatory response such as bursitis 5,6. Best diagnostic clue for avoiding misinterpretation may be scrutinizing sagittal multi planar reconstructions (MPR) and involvement being limited to spinous processes, which is rare in malignancy 6.
Both conservative and surgical options are available for treatment. Local steroid injection into the interspinous processes will often ease the back pain. Surgical options include interspinous process decompression devices (e.g, Wallis system, X STOP), and steroid / local anaesthetic injection into the bursa.
It is named after Christian Ingerslev Baastrup, Danish radiologist (1855-1950)3.
- 1. Kwong Y, Rao N, Latief K. MDCT findings in Baastrup disease: disease or normal feature of the aging spine?. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2011;196 (5): 1156-9. doi:10.2214/AJR.10.5719 - Pubmed citation
- 2. Chen CK, Yeh L, Resnick D et-al. Intraspinal posterior epidural cysts associated with Baastrup's disease: report of 10 patients. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2004;182 (1): 191-4. AJR Am J Roentgenol (full text) - Pubmed citation
- 3. Christian Ingerslev Baastrup from whonamedit.com, the dictionary of medical eponyms. Christian Ingerslev Baastrup
- 4. Rutherford EE, Tarplett LJ, Davies EM et-al. Lumbar spine fusion and stabilization: hardware, techniques, and imaging appearances. Radiographics. 27 (6): 1737-49. doi:10.1148/rg.276065205 - Pubmed citation
- 5. Lin E. Baastrup's disease (kissing spine) demonstrated by FDG PET/CT. Skeletal Radiol. 2008;37 (2): 173-5. doi:10.1007/s00256-007-0379-2 - Pubmed citation
- 6. Rosen RS, Fayad L, Wahl RL. Increased 18F-FDG uptake in degenerative disease of the spine: Characterization with 18F-FDG PET/CT. J. Nucl. Med. 2006;47 (8): 1274-80. Pubmed citation
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