A retrospective analysis was done of all patients referred for MRI of the lumbar spine at the University Hospital of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica, during the three-year period January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2007. Data were collected to determine patients’age, gender, weight and the presence or absence of degenerative disc disease (DDD). The patients’presenting symptoms were not evaluated. There were 362 patients examined: 154 males, 204 females and four uncharacterized, aged between 8 and 87 (mean age = 50.45) years. Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD), was found in 283 (78.2%) patients: 121 males, 159 females and three unidentified, with a total of 669 degenerate discs. L 4/5 and L 5/S 1 were most frequently affected accounting for 31.2% and 30.6% of degenerate discs respectively. Patients with DDD were significantly heavier and significantly older than patients without disc disease. Gender was not predictive of DDD in general nor of involvement of any particular disc though a marginally significant tendency was found for males to more frequently have DDD at L1/2 and L5/S1.
Conclusion: Degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine occurred more frequently in older and heavier patients. Gender did not affect the presence or the extent of the disease; compared to females, males showed a marginally increased tendency to have DDD at L1/2 and L5/S1.