The lumbar spines of 485 skeletons of adult South African "Whites" and "Blacks" of both sexes were examined to determine the incidence and morphology of defects in the pars interarticularis. The overall incidence was 3.5%, without significant variation between races and sexes. The incidence of lumbar spina bifida in the whole sample was 1.9%, but was 11.8% in those skeletons with spondylolysis. Some instances of unilateral spondylolysis demonstrated obvious callus formation, suggesting a capability for normal repair. It is possible that the defects in bilateral cases represent established non-union of fractures of the pars interarticularis resulting from excessive mobility, and are not due to dysplasia of bone. It is noted, for the first time, that the superior facets of affected vertebrae are abnormally enlarged, and that the inferior facets of the separate neural arch are characteristically elliptical.
- © 1978 British Editorial Society of Bone and Joint Surgery