The relationship between density variations of transverse ligament tubercles on multidetector computed tomography (MDCT) and age, gender, or laterality in a large cohort

  • Qinhua Luan
  • Yongguang BanEmail author
  • Kai Liu
  • Bo Sun
  • Ximing Wang
  • Xiangtao Lin
Original Article



Transverse ligament tubercles are unique structures that maintain the stability of the upper cervical spine. However, the density variations of tubercles in different clinical contexts or populations have not been carefully studied through multidetector computed tomography (MDCT).


This study aimed to evaluate the relationship between density variations in the transverse ligament tubercles, as measured through multidetector computed tomography (MDCT), with age, gender, or laterality.


A cohort of 339 Chinese patients that underwent MDCT in the head or neck were recruited. The patients were divided into eight age groups. The densities of the bilateral transverse ligament tubercles were classified through MDCT, and the potential relationship between the density of the tubercles and the age, gender, or laterality was analyzed.


Based on MDCT findings, four different density types of tubercles were identified (type 0–III). Our data suggest that the density of tubercles increased with age (χ2 = 637.7, p < 0.05). However, the density of tubercles did not correlate with laterality (male: t = 0.217, p > 0.05, female: t = 1.448, p > 0.05) or gender (χ2 = 5.706, p > 0.05).


The density of the transverse ligament tubercles, as measured through MDCT, shows a stereotyped dynamic pattern, i.e., it apparently increases with age, but neither gender nor laterality significantly contribute to these changes.


Spine Anatomic variation Transverse ligament tubercles Density Multidetector computed tomography (MDCT) 


Author contributions

LQ, BY, and LK: project development, data collection, data analysis, and manuscript writing. SB and BY: data analysis and manuscript editing. WX and LX: project development and data analysis.


This study was funded by Shandong Provincial Medical and Health Science and Technology Development program (Nos. 2018WS226, 2016WS0531, 2015WS0177, 2015WS0182), National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 81201144), Postdoctoral Science Foundation of China(No. 2015M582098).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Shandong Provincial Hospital Affiliated to Shandong UniversityJinanPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Shandong Medical Imaging Research Institute Affiliated to Shandong UniversityJinanPeople’s Republic of China

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