An interdisciplinary team of scientists and medical practitioners from Western University’s Bone and Joint Institute have made a major breakthrough into better understanding a highly prevalent spine disease that affects an astounding 25 to 30 per cent of North American men over 50.
Diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis – more commonly known as DISH – occurs when ligaments and connective tissues harden along the spine. And despite its relatively high level of pervasiveness, very little was known about the disease until now.
One long held belief about DISH was that it was new bone growth between the spine’s vertebrae that was causing the moderate to severe back pain and stiffness. A new study led by Cheryle Séguin from Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, which examined spines from human cadavers, shows that the growths (observed clinically on X-ray) leading to a diagnosis of DISH are, in fact, not always new bone growth but sometimes hyperdense calcified deposits. The appearance of these tissues by micro-CT also suggests that this process may not be limited to conventional new bone formation.
These important findings have been published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Research.