Last updated: October 31, 2014
Synonyms: Cartilaginous nodes.
ICD-9 Code: Unspecified, 722.30; lumbar or lumbosacral, 722.32; thoracic, 722.31.
ICD-10 Code: M51.4
Definition: Schmorl’s nodes are cartilaginous extrusions of disc material (nucleus pulposus) through the vertebral endplate into the body of the vertebrae. They are often incidental asymptomatic findings on radiographs.
Etiology: Schmorl’s nodes may be idiopathic or associated with disorders that weaken or disrupt vertebral endplates or body (e.g., intervertebral osteochondrosis, Scheuermann’s disease, trauma, hyperparathyroidism, osteoporosis, infection, neoplasm).
Demographics: Schmorl’s nodes are more common in men than women.
Cardinal Findings: Schmorl’s nodes are often asymptomatic but may produce local mechanical pain. They are most frequently found at the lower endplate in the lower thoracic and upper lumbar vertebrae.
Uncommon Findings: Thoracic kyphosis may be seen in young individuals with Scheuermann’s disease.
Diagnostic Tests: Conventional radiography is used.
Imaging: On radiographs, vertebral lesions appear as radiolucent (round or irregularly shaped) areas surrounded by sclerosis. They may also be visualized by CT or MRI.
Differential Diagnosis: Intervertebral osteochondrosis, Scheuermann’s disease, trauma, hyperparathyroidism, osteoporosis, infection, and neoplasm should be considered.
Therapy: Usually no therapy is required. Analgesic agents may be used for pain.