Cervical lordosis: the effect of age and gender

Ella Been*, Sara Shefi, Michalle Soudack

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Background Context Cervical lordosis is of great importance to posture and function. Neck pain and disability is often associated with cervical lordosis malalignment. Surgical procedures involving cervical lordosis stabilization or restoration must take into account age and gender differences in cervical lordosis architecture to avoid further complications. Purpose Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to evaluate differences in cervical lordosis between males and females from childhood to adulthood. Study Design This is a retrospective descriptive study. Patient Sample A total of 197 lateral cervical radiographs of patients aged 6–50 years were examined. These were divided into two age groups: the younger group (76 children aged 6–19; 48 boys and 28 girls) and the adult group (121 adults aged 20–50; 61 males and 60 females). The retrospective review of the radiographs was approved by the institutional review board. Methods On each radiograph, six lordosis angles were measured including total cervical lordosis (FM–C7), upper (FM–C3; C1–C3) and lower (C3–C7) cervical lordosis, C1–C7 lordosis, and the angle between foramen magnum and the atlas (FM–C1). Wedging angles of each vertebral body (C3–C7) and intervertebral discs (C2–C3 to C6–C7) were also measured. Vertebral body wedging and intervertebral disc wedging were defined as the sum of the individual body or disc wedging of C3 to C7, respectively. Each cervical radiograph was classified according to four postural categories: A-lordotic, B-straight, C-double curve, and D-kyphotic. Results The total cervical lordosis of males and females was similar. Males had smaller upper cervical lordosis (FM–C3) and higher lower cervical lordosis (C3–C7) than females. The sum of vertebral body wedging of males and females is kyphotic (anterior height smaller than posterior height). Males had more lordotic intervertebral discs than females. Half of the adults (51%) had lordotic cervical spine, 41% had straight spine, and less than 10% had double curve or kyphotic spine. Children had similar total cervical lordosis (FM–C7) to adults. The sum of vertebral body wedging for children was more kyphotic—by 7°—than that of adults, whereas the sum of intervertebral disc wedging in children was more lordotic—by11°—than that of adults. Seventy-one percent of the children had lordotic cervical spine, 23% had straight spine, and less than 6% had double curve spine. Gender differences are already apparent in children as girls had higher upper cervical lordosis (FM–C3; C1–C3) than boys do. Conclusions Although the total cervical lordosis (FM–C7) did not change between age groups, and between males and females, the internal architecture of the cervical lordosis changed significantly. Practitioners before neck stabilization procedures or correction and restoration should therefore take into account the gender and age differences in cervical lordosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)880-888
Number of pages9
JournalSpine Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2017


  • Child development
  • Foramen magnum
  • Intervertebral disc
  • Posture
  • Spine
  • Vertebral body


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