Association of rudimentary sacral zygapophyseal facets and accessory and ligamentous articulations: Implications for load transmission at the L5-S1 junction


  • Niladri Kumar Mahato

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Anatomy, Sri Aurobindo Institute Of Medical Sciences, Indore-Ujjain Highway, Bhawrasala Indore, Madhya Pradesh, India
    • Department of Anatomy, Sri Aurobindo Institute Of Medical Sciences (SAIMS), Indore-Ujjain Highway, Bhawrasala, Indore, Madhya Pradesh, India
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Weight transmitted from the fifth lumbar vertebrae to the sacrum is distributed as three separate components between (a) the vertebral bodies anteriorly, (b) the transverse elements intermediately, and (c) the lumbosacral facet joints, posteriorly. The posterior components of the fifth lumbar vertebra share greater proportion of load in comparison with the posterior elements of the upper lumbar vertebral levels. This study focuses on rudimentary lumbosacral facet articulations and their possible effects on load sharing at this region. Twenty sacra bearing rudimentary articulations were collected for analysis. Sixteen of these sacra presented unilateral rudimentary facets, and the remaining four had facets that were bilaterally rudimentary. Thirteen of the sacra with unilateral rudimentary facets showed an accessory articulating area on the upper surface of the ala on the same side as the rudimentary zygapophyseal facet. The remaining three sacra (out of the 16) showed evidence of strong ligamentous attachments between the L5 and S1 transverse elements on the sides of the rudimentary facets. All the sacra with bilateral rudimentary facets demonstrated bilateral accessory L5–S1 articulations. These observations indicated that load transmission at lumbosacral junctions bearing a rudimentary facet joint is not normal and that their associations with strong L5–S1 lumbosacral ligamentous attachments or accessory articulations at the transverse elements serve a compensatory mechanism for load sharing. Clin. Anat. 23:707–711, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.