Difference between an osteophyte a syndesmophyte and an enthesophyte

Difference between an osteophyte a syndesmophyte and an enthesophyte?


Osteophytes are thick, triangle-shaped osseous excrescences that form at the site of Sharpey fibers attachment between the annulus fibrosus and the margin of the vertebral body just above or below the endplate margin.

Osteophyte is one of the salient features of osteoarthritis

Osteophytes typically begin by growing outward.

What are the risk factors of osteophytes?

The below are the risk factors for development of osteophytes

  • Age
  • Physical activity
  • body mass index
  • Certain genetic
  • Environmental factors 

An osteophyte may eventually grow and meet an osteophyte on the other side of the disc space to form a bridging osteophyte.


Syndesmophytes are outgrowths from the bone (osseous excrescences) from the spinal ligaments as they attach to adjacent vertebral bodies.

Syndesmophytes are thin, gracile ossifications of the annulus fibrosus and are more vertically oriented than osteophytes, attaching right at the endplate margin.

Appearances of the Syndesmophytes in various diseases or conditions

  • In Reiter’s syndrome and psoriasis – Syndesmophytes typically appear as non-marginal syndesmophytes. They are massive and bridge adjacent vertebrae asymmetrically. Usually in these conditions they appear to arise from a broad zone on the vertebrae, and tend to spare the anterior surfaces of the vertebrae.
  • In ankylosing spondylitis – Syndesmophytes typically appear as marginal syndesmophytes. They tend to be thinner, more vertical, and symmetrical, involving anterior as well as the lateral vertebral body margins. The disc space is often narrowed, and vertebral bodies may show anterior end plate erosions and appear to lose the normal anterior concavity

Syndesmophytes are typically associated with ankylosing spondylitis.


Enthesophytes are bony projections that develop at sites of tendon or ligament attachment to bone.




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