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Eur Spine J. 2008 Oct;17(10):1277-88. doi: 10.1007/s00586-008-0740-8. Epub 2008 Aug 14.

A review of prognostic factors for surgical outcome of ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament of cervical spine.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Xinhua Hospital, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, 1665 Kongjiang Road, 200092, Shanghai, China.


For patients with ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL) who have neurological-symptoms, surgery is necessary but not always effective. Various clinical factors influence the surgical outcome. The studies identifying these factors have been inconclusive and conflicting. It is essential for surgeons to understand the significance of the factors and choose the optimal therapeutic strategy for OPLL. The objective of this review is to determine the clinical factors predictive of the surgical outcome of cervical OPLL. The authors conducted a review of literature published in the English language. They examined studies in which the correlation between clinical factors and outcome were statistically evaluated. The results showed that the traverse area of the spinal cord, the spinal cord-evoked potentials (SCEPs), the increase of the range of motion in the cervical spine (ROM), diabetes, history of trauma, the onset of ossification of the ligament flavum (OLF) in the thoracic spine, snake-eye appearance (SEA) and incomplete decompression may be predictive factors. Age at surgery seems to be closely related to the outcome of posterior surgical procedure. Whether the neurological score, OPLL type, pre-operative duration of symptoms, focal intra-medullar high signal intensity in T2-weighted (IMHSI) and progression of OPLL or kyphosis and expansion of the spinal canal predict the surgical outcome remains unclear. The use of uniform neurological score and proper statistic analysis should facilitate comparison of data from different studies. It is important to analyze the effect of each factor on groups with different surgical procedures as well as patients with different compressive pathology. Research on the etiology and pathology of cervical myelopathy due to OPLL should be helpful in precisely understanding these clinical factors and predicting surgical outcome.

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