Abstract Introduction Our aim was use state-of-the-art computed tomography (CT) to assess the prevalence and size of osteophytes in the thoracic spine; the effect of the thoracic aorta on osteophyte development; and the relationship between thoracic aortic calcification and osteophytes. Methods Thoracic CT scans of 100 individuals taken at the T4–T12 spinal levels were examined to determine the numbers and sizes of osteophytes on the right/left side of the vertebrae. Calcific deposits in the thoracic aorta (TAC) at each thoracic vertebral level were assessed. The mean length of the thoracic osteophytes on each side, the total thoracic osteophyte score (TTOS), and the numbers of osteophytes were calculated. Results The sample comprised 44 males/56 females (mean age 66.45 ± 9.37). TAC was observed in 54 subjects. Osteophytes were significantly larger on the right side than the left at each spinal level. The largest osteophytes on both sides were at the T9, T10, and T11 levels. After adjustment for age, no significant association was found between sex and TTOS on the left (F = 0.277, p = .600) or right (F = 3.856, p = .052). The right TTOS was significantly associated with TAC after adjustment for age and sex (p = .018). Conclusions Osteophytes in the thoracic spine are prevalent in older adults, with number and size increasing with age in both sexes. Osteophytes are significantly less prominent on the left side than the right, probably because of the proximity of the aorta. TTOS and TAC occurred in the same individuals after adjustment for age and sex, suggesting a possible common etiology.
- calcification of aorta
- thoracic osteophytes