Intervertebral disc vacuum phenomenon

Vacuum phenomena involving the intervertebral discs is usually a result of an accumulation of gas (principally nitrogen) within the crevices of the intervertebral discs or adjacent vertebrae.

It is a relatively common occurrence which can be observed in 1-3% of spinal radiographs and may even reach a prevalence of 20% in elderly individuals 5.

This commonly occurs in association with intervertebral disc degenerative disease.

However, the presence of gas does not categorically imply merely degenerative disc disease, as other processes can lead to discs containing gas. Examples of other conditions with gas include:

There are occasional reports of nerve root compression associated with herniated intradiscal gas 6: pneumatic nerve root compression

Magnusson first described it in 1937 5.

Consider:

  • gas collection associated with a non-united vertebral fracture 7
Share article

Article information

rID: 23965
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Intradiskal vacuum phenomena
  • Intradiskal gas
  • Intervertebral disc vacuum phenomenon
  • Vacuum phenomena involving the intervertebral disc
  • Vacuum phenomena involving the intervertebral discs
  • Intradiscal vacuum phenomena
  • Intradiscal gas
  • Intradiscal gas locule
  • Intradiscal gas locules

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Cases and figures

  • Case 1
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 2
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.

     Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

     Thank you for updating your details.