Rapid Progression of Ossification of the Posterior Longitudinal Ligament After Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

World Neurosurg


Cervical Vertebrae; Diskectomy; Follow-Up Studies; Humans; Longitudinal Ligaments; Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Male; Middle Aged; Ossification of Posterior Longitudinal Ligament; Spinal Fusion; Tomography Scanners, X-Ray Computed; ACDF; Cervical fusion; Laminoplasty; Myelopathy; OPLL


BACKGROUND: Ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL) has a reported incidence of 1.9%-4.3%. Disease progression is associated with surgery, with most studies focusing on OPLL progression after laminoplasty. The continued range of motion following surgery is believed to place strain on adjacent levels, driving calcification of the ligament. We present a case of marked progression of OPLL at levels adjacent to a previous anterior cervical discectomy and fusion.

CASE REPORT: A 59-year-old man initially presented for progressive loss of balance and dexterity and underwent a C4-6 anterior cervical discectomy and fusion procedure. Computed tomography performed 1 year postoperatively showed fusion across C4-6 with no evidence of OPLL at any level. Two years following index surgery, the patient reported right-side arm pain. Computed tomography revealed new minimal OPLL opposite the C3-4 level that was not causing cord compression. A sparing midline bilateral C3-7 laminotomy was performed to correct stenosis seen on magnetic resonance imaging. At 7 years after the index procedure, the patient presented with myelopathic symptoms exceeding symptoms at his index presentation. Computed tomography revealed marked progression of OPLL. The patient underwent C2-T2 posterior fusion with laminectomy from C2-C7 and responded well with gradual improvements in balance and arm pain after surgery.

CONCLUSIONS: Our report demonstrates that OPLL progression, which is largely reported following laminoplasty, may similarly occur following anterior cervical discectomy and fusion and supports the concept of motion-related OPLL progression.

Clinical Institute

Neurosciences (Brain & Spine)