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Neurospine. 2018 Sep;15(3):269-276. doi: 10.14245/ns.1836128.064. Epub 2018 Sep 7.

Clinical Outcomes and Prognostic Factors in Patients With Myelopathy Caused by Thoracic Ossification of the Ligamentum Flavum.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Chonnam National University Hospital, Chonnam National University Medical School, Gwangju, Korea.



The objective of this study was to investigate the surgical outcomes and prognostic factors for thoracic ossification of the ligamentum flavum (OLF) after decompressive laminectomy, focusing on the quantitative signal intensity ratio (SIR) of preoperative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and its prognostic significance.


We retrospectively reviewed 24 patients who previously underwent total laminectomy to remove OLF from 2010 to 2015. MRI and computed tomography were performed to detect OLF. The SIR between the regions of interest of high signal intensity lesions and the normal cord at the T1-2 disc levels was calculated. We divided patients into 2 groups based on the extent of the modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) recovery rate (RR): good (RR ≥ 50%) and poor (RR < 50%).


The mean preoperative and postoperative modified JOA scores for thoracic myelopathy were 6.67 ± 1.73 and 8.63 ± 1.81, respectively (p < 0.001). The preoperative JOA score (7.5 vs. 5.83, p = 0.028), postoperative JOA score (9.83 vs. 7.42, p = 0.000), and SIR (1.16 vs. 1.41, p = 0.009) were significantly different between the good and poor RR groups. A higher preoperative JOA score and lower SIR were associated with a good RR according to the JOA criteria.


The clinical outcomes for thoracic OLF after decompressive laminectomy were favorable. A higher RR was correlated with a lower SIR and higher preoperative modified JOA score. Therefore, a relatively low SIR on MRI and a relatively high preoperative JOA score could be positive prognostic indicators for the JOA RR in patients with thoracic OLF.


Intensity signal; Ligamentum flavum; Myelopathy; Ossification; Thoracic vertebrae; Treatment outcome

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