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Thoracic Myelopathy Caused by Ossification of the Ligamentum Flavum Clinicopathologic Study and Surgical Treatment

OKADA, KOZO, MD*; OKA, SHIRO, MD*; KENJITOHGE, , MD; ONO, KEIRO, MD; YONENOBU, KAZUO, MD‡;; HOSOYA, TOHRU, MD§

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The authors reviewed 14 patients with thoracic myelopathy caused by ossification of the ligamentum flavum (OLF). The predominant locality of symptomatic OLF was at the thoracolumbar junction, particularly at T10–11 followed by T11–12. At the level of the thickest OLF in each patient, there were three types of OLF from computed tomography and operative findings: a lateral type in 3 patients, diffuse in 8, and thickened nodular in 3. The diagnosis of OLF-related thoracic spinal canal stenosis was best made by enhanced computed tomography. Histologic study revealed that the developmental mode of OLF was mainly endochondral ossification. Numerous fibrocartilaginous cells were found in the increased and swollen collagen fibers forming the hypertrophic ligamentum flavum (HLF). Ossification extended along the superficial layer of HLF. The size or extension of OLF was relevant to the corresponding diathesis of spinalhyperostosis. Results of laminectomy for OLF were poor because of the high occurrence of complications early on or later deterioration. Therefore, laminoplasty is recommended as a successful procedure for OLF-related thoracic myelopathy, avoiding further local mechanical stress due to tensile force.

*Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery, Kagawa Medical School, Kagawa, Japan.

Suita City Hospital, Osaka, Japan.

Osaka University Medical School, Osaka, Japan.

§Himeji Red Cross Hospital, Hyogo, Japan.

© Lippincott-Raven Publishers.