Kümmell disease

Radswiki et al.

Kümmell disease is an eponymous name for avascular necrosis and collapse of a vertebral body.

Kümmell 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
Plain radiograph/CT
  • shows collapse of affected vertebrae (typically lower thoracic and upper lumbar)
  • 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

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

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Article information

rID: 12147
Section: Pathology
Tag: spine
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Kummel disease
  • Kummel's disease
  • Kummell's disease

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Cases and figures

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    Kummell disease
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    Case 3
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    Case 4 : on MRI
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