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Scientific Articles   |    
Characteristics of Ossified Lesions in the Upper Cervical Spine Associated with Ossification of the Posterior Longitudinal Ligament in the Lower Cervical Spine
Yoshiharu Kawaguchi, MD1; Shoji Seki, MD1; Takeshi Hori, MD1; Tomoatsu Kimura, MD1
1 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Toyama, 2630, Sugitani, Toyama 930-0194, Japan. E-mail address for Y. Kawaguchi: zenji@med.u-toyama.ac.jp
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Disclosure: The authors did not receive any outside funding or grants in support of their research for or preparation of this work. Neither they nor a member of their immediate families received payments or other benefits or a commitment or agreement to provide such benefits from a commercial entity. No commercial entity paid or directed, or agreed to pay or direct, any benefits to any research fund, foundation, division, center, clinical practice, or other charitable or nonprofit organization with which the authors, or a member of their immediate families, are affiliated or associated.
Investigation performed at the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Toyama, Toyama, Japan

The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc.
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2008 Apr 01;90(4):748-753. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.G.00037
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Abstract

Background: Ossified lesions of the upper cervical spine behind the dens may cause cervical myelopathy. We investigated the prevalence of ossified lesions in patients with ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament in order to clarify the characteristics of these patients.

Methods: Fifty-six consecutive patients with ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament in the cervical spine were included in the study. Multidetector computed tomography images of the whole spine were made. Ossified lesions of the upper cervical spine were defined as ossified lesions behind the dens as seen on axial computed tomography images. The prevalence of ossified lesions at the first cervical level was analyzed. The clinical and radiographic parameters were compared between the patients with ossified lesions at the first cervical level and the patients without such lesions.

Results: Fourteen patients (25%) had ossified lesions of the upper cervical spine. The continuous type of ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament in the lower cervical spine was common and the segmental type was rare in this group as compared with the types of ossification in the group without ossified lesions at the first cervical level. The patients with first cervical level ossification more frequently had ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament in the thoracic and/or lumbar spine, compared with the patients without upper cervical ossification. One patient had cervical myelopathy as a result of the upper cervical ossified lesion.

Conclusions: Computed tomography imaging demonstrated the presence of ossified lesions behind the dens in 25% of patients with subaxial ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament. These upper cervical ossified lesions were commonly seen in patients with multiple-level ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament. When upper cervical ossified lesions cause severe narrowing of the spinal canal, they should be considered a potential cause of cervical myelopathy.

Level of Evidence: Diagnostic Level IV. See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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    Accreditation Statement
    These activities have been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
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