Kummel disease

Dr Henry Knipe and Radswiki et al.

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


Kummel disease represents delayed (usually two weeks) vertebral body collapse due to ischaemia and non-union of the anterior vertebral body wedge fractures after major trauma.

Risk factors

Risk factors include:

  • osteoporosis
  • corticosteroid use
  • alcoholism
  • radiation therapy

Radiographic features

Plain film/CT
  • shows collapse of affected vertebrae
  • an intravertebral vacuum cleft and fluid may be seen (accentuated on extension stress lateral views), although this is non-specifc
  • the intravertebral vacuum cleft is usually seen as low signal intensity with all sequences
  • if intravertebral fluid is present it is low T1 signal on and high T2 signal

The severity of the vertebral collapse has been found to be higher in those who have intravertebral gas compared to only intravertebral fluid, signifying that the presence intra-vertebral air is possibly a more advance stage of the disease 1

History and etymology

This condition was first described by Herman Kummell in 1891 4.

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Article Information

rID: 12147
Section: Pathology
Tag: spine
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Kummell disease
  • Kummel's disease
  • Kummell's disease
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    Case 1
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    Kummell disease
    Case 2
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    Case 3
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    Case 4 : on MRI
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    Case 5
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    Case 6
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