Uncovertebral degeneration

  • Uncovertebral joints aka Luschka joints
  • From C2-3 to C6-7
  • C3 to C7 vertebral bodies have on the lateral aspect superior projections called uncinate processes that articulate with the next higher vertebra
  • Evolves with age
  • Joint permits flexion and extension, restricts lateral motion. Also prevents lateral/foraminal disc protrusions
  • Osteophytes can form on uncinate process with age due to uncovertebral arthrosis
  • Uncovertebral arthrosis causes both intervertebral and transverse foraminal narrowing
  • Foraminal narrowing in cervical spine is caused by uncovertebral osteophytic spurs > facet joint degeneration > herniated disc
  • Plain radiograph: seen in AP and oblique. Oblique views helps assess foraminal narrowing
  • CT: best for seeing uncinate spurs
  • MRI: useful if suspecting foraminal disc herniation
Read more

Skalski, Matthew R., George R. Matcuk Jr, and Wende N. Gibbs. “The art of interpreting cervical spine radiographs.” RadioGraphics 39.3 (2019): 820-821.

Resnick, Donald. “Degenerative diseases of the vertebral column.” Radiology 156.1 (1985): 3-14.