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Seokjin Ko, Junseok Bae and Sang-Ho Lee

OBJECTIVE

The authors aimed to analyze outcomes following transthoracic microsurgical anterior decompression of thoracic ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (T-OPLL), which was causing myelopathy, and determine the predictive factors for surgical outcomes.

METHODS

Patients who underwent transthoracic microsurgical anterior decompression without fusion for the treatment of T-OPLL from December 2014 to May 2019 were included. Demographic, radiological, and perioperative data and clinical outcomes of 35 patients were analyzed. The modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association (mJOA) score and recovery rate were used to evaluate functional outcomes.

RESULTS

A total of 35 consecutive patients (8 men and 27 women; mean age 52.2 ± 10.8 years) were enrolled in this study, and the mean follow-up period was 65.5 ± 51.9 months. The mean mJOA score significantly improved after surgery (5.9 ± 1.8 vs 8.3 ± 1.5, p < 0.001), with a mean recovery rate of 47.7% ± 24.5%. The visual analog scale (VAS) score significantly improved after surgery (7.3 ± 1.3 vs 4.3 ± 0.7, p < 0.001). The outcome was excellent in 4 patients (11.4%), good in 21 patients (60.0%), fair in 4 patients (11.4%), unchanged in 5 patients (14.3%), and worsened in 1 patient (2.9%). There were 12 cases of CSF leakage, 1 case of epidural hematoma, 1 case of pleural effusion, and 1 case of pneumothorax. Age, preoperative kyphotic angle, anteroposterior length of T-OPLL at the maximally affected level, and mass occupying rate were identified as predictors associated with postoperative outcome. A multivariate regression analysis revealed that age and preoperative kyphotic angle were independent risk factors for postoperative outcomes.

CONCLUSIONS

Transthoracic microsurgical anterior decompression without fusion achieved favorable clinical and radiological outcomes for treating T-OPLL with myelopathy. Patient age and preoperative kyphotic angle were independent risk factors for lower recovery rate.