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Spinal Cord Ser Cases. 2016 Nov 24;2:16032. doi: 10.1038/scsandc.2016.32. eCollection 2016.

Spinal cord infarction at the level of ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament.

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Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, Tottori University , Tottori, Japan.



We report a case of acute tetraplegia, without any trauma or symptoms prior to onset, who presented with ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL) in the cervical spine with concomitant spinal cord infarction.


A 64-year-old man with a number of risk factors for vascular disease was admitted to our hospital with progressive motor weakness in the bilateral upper and lower extremities. He had initially felt numbness in his left upper extremity and had no previous neurological symptoms or trauma. The night after the initial symptoms, he developed spastic tetraplegia requiring respiratory support. Computed tomography images of the cervical spine demonstrated the segmental type of OPLL. Spinal cord compression and signal intensity changes were identified at the level of C3/4 on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). He underwent emergency surgery consisting of posterior decompression with laminoplasty of C3-6. Despite the surgery, the patient's tetraplegia did not improve and he continued to require respirator support. There was still no improvement in his neurological status at 10 days postoperatively, and MRI demonstrated evidence of marked spinal cord infarction.


Mechanical compression of spinal arteries by OPLL and pre-existing vascular compromise had a role in the pathogenesis of spinal cord infarction. Chronic spinal compression may be characterized by 3 important factors, namely an uncommonly devastating clinical course, vascular risk factors and persistent findings on MRI, and these might lead to early diagnosis of spinal cord infarction.


Spinal cord diseases; Stroke

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