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Morio Matsumoto, Yoshiaki Toyama, Hirotaka Chikuda, Katsushi Takeshita, Tsuyoshi Kato, Shigeo Shindo, Kuniyoshi Abumi, Masahiko Takahata, Yutaka Nohara, Hiroshi Taneichi, Katsuro Tomita, Norio Kawahara, Shiro Imagama, Yukihiro Matsuyama, Masashi Yamazaki, and Akihiko Okawa

Object

The aim of this study was to evaluate the outcomes of fusion surgery in patients with ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament in the thoracic spine (T-OPLL) and to identify factors significantly related to surgical outcomes.

Methods

The study included 76 patients (34 men and 42 women with a mean age of 56.3 years) who underwent fusion surgery for T-OPLL at 7 spine centers during the 5-year period from 2003 to 2007. The authors evaluated the patient demographic data, underlying disease, preoperative comorbidities, history of spinal surgery, radiological findings, surgical methods, surgical outcomes, and complications. Surgical outcomes were assessed using the Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) scale score for thoracic myelopathy (11 points) and the recovery rate.

Results

The mean JOA scale score was 4.6 ± 2.1 points preoperatively and 7.7 ± 2.5 points at the time of the final follow-up examination, yielding a mean recovery rate of 45.4% ± 39.1%. The recovery rates by surgical method were 38.5% ± 37.8% for posterior decompression and fusion, 65.0% ± 35.6% for anterior decompression and fusion via an anterior approach, 28.8% ± 41.2% for anterior decompression via a posterior approach, and 57.5% ± 41.1% for circumferential decompression and fusion. The recovery rate was significantly higher in patients without diabetes mellitus (DM) than in those with DM. One or more complications were experienced by 31 patients (40.8%), including 20 patients with postoperative neurological deterioration, 7 with dural tears, 5 with epidural hematomas, 4 with respiratory complications, and 10 with other complications.

Conclusions

The outcomes of fusion surgery for T-OPLL were favorable. The absence of DM correlated with better outcomes. However, a high rate of complications was associated with the fusion surgery.

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Hitoshi Haba, Hiroshi Taneichi, Yoshihisa Kotani, Satoshi Terae, Satoru Abe, Hiroyuki Yoshikawa, Kuniyoshi Abumi, Akio Minami, and Kiyoshi Kaneda

Object

The posterior ligamentous complex (PLC) in the thoracic and lumbar spine is one of the region's important stabilizers. The precise diagnosis of PLC injury is required to evaluate the instability of the injured spine; however, the accuracy of magnetic resonance (MR) imaging for diagnosing PLC injury has remained unclear. In this study, the authors compared preoperative MR imaging findings with direct intraoperative observation of PLC injury, clarifying the former's diagnostic accuracy regarding detection of PLC injury associated with the thoracic and lumbar fractures.

Methods

Data obtained in 35 patients who sustained thoracic or lumbar injuries were reviewed. There were 17 burst fractures, six flexion—distraction injuries, and 12 fracture dislocations. Each patient underwent MR imaging examination within 3 weeks of injury. Three radiologists independently evaluated sagittal MR images in a blinded fashion. The PLC-related information was retrospectively collected from each operative record. The diagnostic accuracy of MR imaging was analyzed by comparing imaging-documented intraoperative findings.

The PLC injuries were detected in 23 patients (65.7%) by direct observation during posterior spinal procedures. The diagnostic accuracy of MR imaging in detecting injury of the supraspinous ligament (SSL) and interspinous ligament (ISL) was 90.5 and 94.3%, respectively. The specificity of T1-weighted MR imaging alone for depicting the SSL was significantly greater than T2-weighted imaging alone (p < 0.05). The overall mean κ coefficient for MR imaging findings of PLC injury was 0.803, which indicated excellent interobserver reliability; that for ISL (0.915) was significantly greater than that for SSL (0.69) (p < 0.05).

Conclusions

This study clarified a high diagnostic accuracy and interobserver reliability of MR imaging for PLC injury. The precise diagnosis of PLC injury is essential to determine the mechanical instability of the injured thoracic and lumbar spine, especially in differentiating unstable (three-column) burst fractures from the relatively stable (two-column) type. The authors conclude that MR imaging is a powerful diagnostic tool to evaluate PLC injury associated with thoracic and lumbar fractures.