The incidence and risk factors for the progression of ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL) have been previously reported in surgically and nonsurgically treated symptomatic patients. However, the correlates of OPLL progression in asymptomatic subjects with OPLL are not well characterized. This study aimed to clarify the incidence and risk factors for OPLL progression in asymptomatic subjects based on whole-body CT.
The authors retrospectively reviewed 2585 healthy subjects who underwent whole-body CT at a single health center from September 2007 to December 2011. This study included asymptomatic subjects with OPLL who underwent CT scans twice with an interval of at least 5 years. Progression of OPLL was assessed based on initial and final CT scan. Subjects were divided into two groups: nonprogression (OPLL-NP) and progression (OPLL-P) groups. Clinical characteristics, bone mineral density status, OPLL types, and OPLL involvement of multiple vertebral levels between the two groups were compared. Risk factors for progression of OPLL were identified by logistic regression analysis after propensity score adjustment.
Of the 109 subjects with OPLL (91 men and 18 women), 20 (18.3%) exhibited OPLL progression (OPLL-P group). Subjects in the OPLL-P group were significantly younger (p = 0.031), had higher prevalence of multilevel OPLL involvement (p = 0.041) and continuous type of OPLL (p = 0.015), and had higher uric acid (UA) levels (p = 0.004) at the time of initial CT examination compared to the OPLL-NP group. Younger age (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 0.95, 95% CI 0.90–0.99), OPLL involvement of multiple vertebral levels (aOR 2.88, 95% CI 1.06–7.83), continuous type of OPLL (aOR 4.21, 95% CI 1.35–13.10), and higher UA levels (aOR 2.09, 95% CI 1.24–3.53) were significant risk factors for OPLL progression.
Younger age, OPLL involvement of multiple vertebral levels, continuous type of OPLL, and higher UA levels are significant risk factors for OPLL progression in asymptomatic subjects.