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Kummel disease

Kummel disease is an eponymous name for avascular necrosis of the vertebrae.


It often occurs following a traumatic collapse and risk factors include :

  • osteoporosis
  • corticosteroid use
  • alcoholism
  • radiation therapy

Radiographic features

Plain film / CT
  • shows collapse of affected vertebrae
  • an intra-vertebral vacuum cleft may be seen (accentuated on extension stress lateral views), although not a specific feature
  • the vacuum cleft is usually seen as low signal intensity with all sequences. 
  • if intra-vertabral fluid is present 1 it is " low signal on T1 " and " high signal on T2 " weighted sequences.


It was first described by Herman Kummell in 1891 4

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