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Table 2 Associations and difference in diagnostic accuracy between disc signal intensity and ‘LBP year’ at different thresholds and ages. Associations are expressed as odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) obtained from logistic regression analyses adjusted for body mass index. The probability of no difference in Area Under Curves (AUC) between Thresholds 1 and 2 is reported as p-values from chi square tests. More details are given in Additional File 4

From: An exploratory study of different definitions and thresholds for lumbar disc degeneration assessed by MRI and their associations with low back pain using data from a cohort study of a general population

Disc signal intensity at 41 YearsThreshold 2: ≥ grade 2
(n = 356) (87.04%)
OR (95% CI)
Threshold 3: = grade 3
(n = 185) (45.23%)
OR (95% CI)
AUC comparison (p-value)
All participants (n = 409)2.02 (1.12;3.64)*2.57 (1.65;4.02)*AUC T2 = AUC T3: 0.020*
 Men (n = 197)2.88 (1.20;6.90)*2.52 (1.35;4.72)*AUC T2 = AUC T3: 0.017*
 Women (n = 210)1.63 (0.70;3.76)2.90 (1.50;5.60)*AUC T2 = AUC T3: 0.016*
 Upper lumbar spine (n = 409)1.16 (0.76;1.77)2.27 (0.91;5.62)AUC T2 = AUC T3: 0.240
 Lower lumbar spine (n = 409)1.91 (1.16;3.16)*2.55 (1.61;4.05)*AUC T2 = AUC T3: 0.111
Disc signal intensity at 45 YearsThreshold 2: ≥ grade 2
(n = 290) (85.04%)
OR (95% CI)
Threshold 3: = grade 3
(n = 170) (49.85%)
OR (95% CI)
AUC comparison (p-value)
All participants (n = 341)2.17 (1.18;4.00)*1.10 (0.69;1.75)AUC T2 = AUC T3: 0.123
 Men (n = 160)2.25 (0.92;5.47)1.47 (0.75;2.90)AUC T2 = AUC T3: 0.134
 Women (n = 181)2.11 (0.90;4.92)0.85 (0.45;1.61)AUC T2 = AUC T3: 0.267
 Upper lumbar spine (n = 341)1.34 (0.84;2.14)1.48 (0.72;3.06)AUC T2 = AUC T3: 0.767
 Lower lumbar spine (n = 341)1.57 (0.91;2.74)0.98 (0.61;1.55)AUC T2 = AUC T3: 0.589
Disc signal intensity at 49 YearsThreshold 2: ≥ grade 2
(n = 251) (89.01%)
OR (95% CI)
Threshold 3: = grade 3
(n = 100) (35.46%)
OR (95% CI)
AUC comparison (p-value)
All participants (n = 282)2.65 (1.23;5.67)*1.49 (0.86;2.59)AUC T2 = AUC T3: 0.859
 Men (n = 132)5.49 (1.63;18.52)*2.30 (1.05;5.06)*AUC T2 = AUC T3: 0.825
 Women (n = 150)1.35 (0.43;4.25)0.98 (0.44;2.16)AUC T2 = AUC T3: 0.01*
 Upper lumbar spine (n = 282)2.08 (1.21;3.58)*5.08 (1.16;22.21)*AUC T2 = AUC T3: 0.247
 Lower lumbar spine (n = 282)2.23 (1.15;4.30)*1.29 (0.74;2.26)AUC T2 = AUC T3: 0.324
  1. Note: The results for threshold ≥1 were underpowered and are therefore not presented in the Table
  2. * P-value < 0.05