ALAIN POL, ISM / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ALAIN POL, ISM / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
False-colour X-ray of the lumbar spine of a woman aged 80 years, showing a prominent scoliosis (lateral curve) and degenerative changes due to osteoarthritis. In addition to a reduction in the spaces between succesive vertebrae (backbones), osteoarthritis is characterized by the formation of osteophytes - bony, thorn-like projections that appear to almost form a bridge between adjacent vertebrae. These are visible to the left of most of the 5 lumbar vertebrae on this image (denoted as L1 to L5) and are most apparent between L1 & L2 (top), L2/L3 and L3/L4 (centre of image). Osteoarthritis is associated with mechanical wear & most commonly affects the elderly. Yellow colour.
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