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Paraparesis in a Black Man Brought on by Ossification of the Ligamentum Flavum: Case Report and Review of the Literature

Wiseman, Diana Barrett; Stokes, John K.; Toselli, Richard M.

Journal of Spinal Disorders & Techniques: December 2002 - Volume 15 - Issue 6 - p 542-545
Case Reports

We present the second case of paraparesis secondary to ossification of the ligamentum flavum at the midthoracic region in a black man. Ossification of the ligamentum flavum is frequently described in the Japanese population where the presentation is often in the lower thoracic region. The patient is a 37-year-old black man who, over the 6 months before admission, noticed progressive paraparesis. CT myelogram revealed severe thoracic stenosis by an ossified ligamentum flavum from T4 to T7 with most severe involvement at the T5, T6, and T7 levels. The patient underwent multilevel laminectomies and medial facetectomies from T4 to T7. Over the past decade, ossification of the ligamentum flavum has been reported with increasing frequency in non-Asian patients. This is the third case report in a black man. In addition, ossification of the ligamentum flavum in this particular location is rarely reported. The increased use of advanced neuroimaging techniques in the evaluation of “back pain” may reveal that the prevalence of this condition is higher than expected in non-Asian populations. Improvement in neurologic symptoms secondary to decompressive laminectomies will depend on the degree and duration of spinal cord compression.

Division of Neurosurgery, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Received May 1, 2002.

Accepted September 4, 2002.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Richard M. Toselli, Division of Neurosurgery, University of North Carolina, CB#7060 Burnett-Womack CSB, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7060, U.S.A.

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.