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Ask Dr. D. Love Your Own Question
Dr. D. Love
Dr. D. Love, Doctor
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 18677
Experience:  Family Physician for 10 years; Hospital Medical Director for 10 years.
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What does it mean in a radiology report: Mild degenerative

Customer Question

What does it mean in a radiology report: Mild degenerative changes are noted,including multi-level anterior osteophyte formation. Additionally, The cervical spine is partially visualized and an uncovertable osteophyte at C-6 encraoches upon the spinal canal. Can a doctor please explain the terminology in this report? It was verified because of a suspicious lesion on a plain film and was indicated concern for osteoblastic metastases. Is this CANCER?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Medical
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 7 years ago.

Thank you for your question, but it will help if you provide some clarification:


Was there a plain x-ray first that showed a possible osteoblastic lesion?

Then another study was done? Was it a CT scan or an MRI?

This study showed the osteophytes that you ask about?

But did this second study not show an osteoblastic lesion?


Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Yes a plain x-ray was given first which did show possible osteoblastic lesion. Another was done which was a CT sacan and the study that I have did not show the osteophtes just the location of where it was found. And That is what I am tring to figure out if it showed a lesion. It said verifiedthat the uncovertable ostephyte at C6-7 encroaches upon the spinal canal; and I do not know waht that means.

Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 7 years ago.

Thank you for the additional information.


First to define some terms:

  • degenerative changes are the changes that are seen from wear and tear on the musculoskeletal system,
  • osteophyte is an abnormal growth of bone, commonly referred to as a bone spur,
  • an anterior osteophyte occurs on the front of the vertebra,
  • an uncovertebral osteophyte occurs at a particular joint,
  • osteoblastic means that it is forming bone.


In your report, these changes are mild overall. There are several anterior osteophytes. The single uncovertebral osteophyte is protruding towards the spinal canal, which means that it is protruding into the place where the spinal cord is located, but it is not mentioned as pressing on the spinal cord or a nerve root. None of these findings would suggest cancer. You can read a discussion of degenerative disease of the cervical spine that includes some pictures of osteophytes at


Customer: replied 7 years ago.
what is metastases?
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 7 years ago.

A metastasis is a cancer growth at a location that is distant from the original cancer. The CT scan report as you typed it does not indicate any findings worrisome for a cancer. An uncovertebral osteophyte is not a cancerous growth.


Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Ok, so this term osteoblastic is accompanied by the word metastases.Im confused and under the impression that this is a form of bone cancer?

Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 7 years ago.

In my request for clarification I tried to ascertain whether the osteoblastic lesion was in the initial x-ray and not seen in the CT scan. You said the CT scan showed the uncovertebral osteophyte, which is not a form of cancer. The CT scan is more accurate at detecting cancerous growths, so if the area that was suspicious on the plain x-ray is identified as an uncovertebral osteophyte, then there is not a concern of cancer. If the CT scan showed an osteoblastic lesion consistent with cancer, then the lesion should be biopsied to determine the nature of the lesion if the cause of the lesion is unknown.