Uncovertebral arthrosis is osteoarthritic changes seen at the uncinate process of the cervical spine. It is a common site of arthrosis regularly observed at the lower cervical vertebrae.
Clinical presentation will vary; it could be a sudden onset of pain, stiffness or even chronic pain; however, it can also be asymptomatic. There generally is distinguished osteophytes which can affect close anatomical structures.
Postiorer spurring can impinge on the intervertebral foramen 1, whilst anterior osteophytes combined with fibroligamentous thickening can compress the anterior-medial aspect of the vertebral artery 1.
Uncovertebral arthrosis is thought to be the result of dehydration/reduction of the intervertebral disc, leading to an increased load between the cervical vertebrae and hence the uncovertebral joints. It typically is seen in the lower cervical vertebrae due to the increased load at these levels.
Uncovertebral arthrosis typically appears as pitting of the articular surface and an overall distortion of the unicate process with associated osteophyte formation.
Pertinent features of uncinate arthrosis include:
- hypertrophy and blunting of the uncinate process
- lateral stenosis of the joint
- pseudofracture (cervical split)
- lucent line over the mid-vertebral body exhibiting the uncovertebral joint on the lateral projection due to osteophytes
- narrowing of the intervertebral foramen on oblique view
- 1. Anatomy and clinical significance of the uncinate process and uncovertebral joint: A comprehensive review. (2014) Clinical Anatomy. 27 (3): 431. doi:10.1002/ca.22317
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