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Acta Neurochir Suppl. 2019;125:63-70. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-62515-7_10.

Ossification of the Posterior Longitudinal Ligament: Analysis of the Role of Craniovertebral and Spinal Instability.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Seth GS Medical College and KEM Hospital, Mumbai, India.



This paper reviews an experience of surgically treating ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL) with fixation of the involved spinal segments alone, without resorting to any bony or soft tissue decompression or attempts at direct resection of the OPLL. While in the early part of the experience, stabilization of only the involved subaxial cervical spinal segments was done, in the later part of the experience, atlantoaxial fixation was included in the multisegmental spinal fixation construct. This treatment is based on the understanding that spinal instability that includes atlantoaxial instability forms the nodal point of the pathogenesis and development of OPLL, and maturation of the presenting clinical symptoms.


Twenty-nine patients were treated in this series. There were 28 males and one female, and their ages ranged from 28 to 75 years (average 57 years). All patients presented with symptoms of neck pain, and progressive and disabling myelopathy-related quadriparesis. In the early part of the series (from 2012 to 2014), 14 patients underwent multilevel subaxial cervical spinal fixation by a transarticular technique of facetal fixation. After November 2014, atlantoaxial lateral mass fixation was included in the fixation construct in the subsequent 15 patients. Clinical assessments were done using a visual analogue scale (VAS), the Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) scale and Goel's clinical grading scale.


All patients' clinical symptoms improved in the immediate postoperative period, and the improvement was sustained and progressive in 28 patients.


Atlantoaxial and subaxial spinal instability seems to be the nodal pathogenetic factor in OPLL. Only stabilization of spinal segments that includes the atlantoaxial joint can provide a safe, simple and rational form of treatment.


Atlantoaxial dislocation; Facetal fixation; Ossified posterior longitudinal ligament; Spinal instability

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