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J Spinal Disord. 1990 Dec;3(4):288-92.

Degeneration and ossification of the yellow ligament in unstable spine.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Kumamoto University, Medical School, Japan.


Lumbar yellow ligaments were obtained from 20 cases of lumbar spinal canal stenosis and 20 cases of degenerative olisthesis with slippage of more than 3 mm. The ligaments were stained with safranin-O, von Kossa, and immunohistochemical staining methods (S-100 protein). In the unstable group the safranin-O staining was more intense, microscopic ossification and chondroblasts were noted more frequently, and S-100 protein was more abundant. These findings show that instability of the lumbar spine accelerates degeneration and chondrometaplasia of the yellow ligament, which may lead to the enchondral ossification of the ligament.

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