Letter to the Editor: Incidence and Skeletal Features of Developmental Cervical and Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

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Asian Spine J. 2023;17(1):226-227
Publication date (electronic) : 2023 February 23
doi : https://doi.org/10.31616/asj.2023.0004.r1
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, Saga University, Saga, Japan
Corresponding Author: Hirohito Hirata Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, Saga University, 5-1-1 Nabeshima, Saga, Japan Tel: +81-955-72-5111, Fax: +81-955-73-9530, E-mail: h.hirata.saga@gmail.com
Received 2023 January 5; Revised 2023 January 8; Accepted 2023 January 19.

We were intrigued by the article by Kasai et al. [1], which found that a small skull, small transverse diameter of the foramen magnum, and the small orbital bone were significantly correlated with developmental cervical spinal stenosis (DCSS). However, we have some concerns about this paper.

First, this study reported the anatomical fact that cervical spine and skull hypoplasia was common in DCSS patients but lacked an explanation as to the mechanism. Indeed, the author pointed out the possible involvement of genetic factors and perinatal problems. Still, it would have been better to discuss the mechanism in terms of embryology and its relationship to congenital diseases that cause abnormalities in both the skull and the cervical spine (i.e., Klippel-Feil syndrome). Furthermore, a common genetic cause between DCSS and diseases that cause abnormalities in the cranio-cervical region may contribute to understanding the pathogenesis of the disease.

Second, a statistical analysis was conducted by dividing the anteroposterior diameter of the spinal canal into two groups at a cut-off value of 12 mm. While 12 mm may be a relatively good consensus cut-off value, we wonder if there was any correlation between the various parameters and the values of the anteroposterior diameter of the spinal canal [2]. In a previous study of 243 Japanese subjects, the inter-inner canthal distance was 2.7 cm in the DCSS (+) group and 3.5 cm in the DCSS (-) group, a significant difference, but the difference in the present study was 2.57 and 2.72 cm, which was not very large [3]. What could be the reason for this? Is it race—or a difference in the measurement method?

Finally, craniofacial structures are known to vary widely by ethnicity. In fact, between Caucasians and Asians, the inter-inner canthal distance appears to be narrower in Caucasians [4]. From this argument, Caucasians appear to be more prone to DCSS when we compared the prevalence of this phenomenon. In other words, using only the inter-inner canthal distance as an indicator will result in data that are applicable only under limited conditions. Considering these facts, it still seems desirable to combine them with other indicators, such as the ratio of the anteroposterior diameter of the vertebral body to the anteroposterior diameter of the spinal canal (Torg-Pavlov ratio) [5], vertebral height, ratio of anteroposterior and transverse diameters, and deformities, so that we can obtain more accurate results.

This is an impressive study with data that support the clinician’s intuition that humans with low-profile facial bones have low-profile spinal canals and that clinical applications are available immediately. We would appreciate it if the authors answered our questions and responded to our suggestions for further understanding.


Conflict of Interest

No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.

Author Contributions

All the work was done by Miri Kishikawa and his colleagues.


1. Kasai Y, Paholpak P, Wisanuyotin T, et al. Incidence and skeletal features of developmental cervical and lumbar spinal stenosis. Asian Spine J 2022;May. 10. [Epub]. https://doi.org/10.31616/asj.2022.0015.
2. Morishita Y, Naito M, Hymanson H, Miyazaki M, Wu G, Wang JC. The relationship between the cervical spinal canal diameter and the pathological changes in the cervical spine. Eur Spine J 2009;18:877–83.
3. Kasai Y, Akeda K, Uchida A. Physical characteristics of patients with developmental cervical spinal canal stenosis. Eur Spine J 2007;16:901–3.
4. Jeong HC, Ahn HB. Comparison of orbital anatomy in Korean and Caucasian patients using computed tomography. J Korean Ophthalmol Soc 2015;56:1311–5.
5. Pavlov H, Torg JS, Robie B, Jahre C. Cervical spinal stenosis: determination with vertebral body ratio method. Radiology 1987;164:771–5.

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