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Arnold H. Menezes

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Shunji Matsunaga, Kosei Ijiri, and Kyoji Hayashi

Object. Controversy exists concerning the indications for surgery and choice of surgical procedure for patients with degenerative spondylolisthesis. The goals of this study were to determine the clinical course of nonsurgically managed patients with degenerative spondylolisthesis as well as the indications for surgery.

Methods. A total of 145 nonsurgically managed patients with degenerative spondylolisthesis were examined annually for a minimum of 10 years follow-up evaluation. Radiographic changes, changes in clinical symptoms, and functional prognosis were surveyed.

Progressive spondylolisthesis was observed in 49 patients (34%). There was no correlation between changes in clinical symptoms and progression of spondylolisthesis. The intervertebral spaces of the slipped segments were decreased significantly in size during follow-up examination in patients in whom no progression was found. Low-back pain improved following a decrease in the total intervertebral space size. A total of 84 (76%) of 110 patients who had no neurological deficits at initial examination remained without neurological deficit after 10 years of follow up. Twenty-nine (83%) of the 35 patients who had neurological symptoms, such as intermittent claudication or vesicorectal disorder, at initial examination and refused surgery experienced neurological deterioration. The final prognosis for these patients was very poor.

Conclusions. Low-back pain was improved by restabilization. Conservative treatment is useful for patients who have low-back pain with or without pain in the lower extremities. Surgical intervention is indicated for patients with neurological symptoms including intermittent claudication or vesicorectal disorder, provided that a good functional outcome can be achieved.

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Shunji Matsunaga, Makoto Kukita, Kyoji Hayashi, Reiko Shinkura, Chihaya Koriyama, Takashi Sakou, and Setsuro Komiya

Object. The goal of this study was to clarify the pathogenesis of myelopathy in patients with ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL) based on the relationship between static compression factors and dynamic factors.

Methods. There was a total of 247 patients, including 167 patients who were conservatively followed for a mean of 11 years and 2 months and 80 patients who had myelopathy at initial consultation and underwent surgery. The changes in clinical symptoms associated with OPLL in the cervical spine were examined periodically.

During the natural course of OPLL in the cervical spine, 37 (22%) of 167 patients developed or suffered aggravated spinal symptoms. All of the patients with a space available for the spinal cord (SAC) less than 6 mm suffered myelopathy, whereas the patients with an SAC diameter of 14 mm or greater did not. No correlation was found between the presence or absence of myelopathy in patients whose SAC diameter ranged from 6 mm to less than 14 mm. In patients with myelopathy whose minimal SAC diameter ranged from 6 mm to less than 14 mm, the range of motion of the cervical spine was significantly greater.

Conclusions. These results indicate that pathological compression by the ossified ligament above a certain critical point may be the most significant factor in inducing myelopathy, whereas below that point dynamic factors may be largely involved in inducing myelopathy.

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Shunji Matsunaga, Takashi Sakou, Eiji Taketomi, and Setsuro Komiya

Object. Ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL) may produce quadriplegia. The course of future neurological deterioration in patients with radiographic evidence of OPLL, however, is not known. The authors conducted a long-term follow-up cohort study of more than 10 years to clarify the clinical course of this disease progression.

Methods. A total of 450 patients, including 304 managed conservatively and 146 treated by surgery, were enrolled in the study. All patients underwent neurological and radiographical follow-up examinations for a mean of 17.6 years. Myelopathy was graded using Nurick classification and the Japanese Orthopaedic Association scale.

Fifty-five (17%) of 323 patients without myelopathy evident at the first examination developed myelopathy during the follow-up period. Risk factors associated with the evolution of myelopathy included greater than 60% OPLL-induced stenotic compromise of the cervical canal, and increased range of motion of the cervical spine. Using Kaplan—Meier analysis, the myelopathy-free rate in patients without first-visit myelopathy was 71% after 30 years. A significant difference in final functional outcome was not observed between nonsurgical and surgical cases in which preoperative Nurick grades were 1 or 2. In patients with Nurick Grade 3 or 4 myelopathy, however, only 12% who underwent surgery eventually became wheelchair bound or bedridden compared with 89% of those managed conservatively. Surgery proved ineffective in the management of patients with Grade 5 disease.

Conclusions. Results of this long-term cohort study elucidated the clinical course of OPLL following conservative or surgical management. Surgery proved effective for the management of patients with Nurick Grades 3 and 4 myelopathy.

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Shunji Matsunaga, Satoshi Nagano, Toshiyuki Onishi, Norio Morimoto, Shusaku Suzuki, and Setsuro Komiya

Object. The authors conducted a study to determine age-related changes in expression of transforming growth factor (TGF)—β1, —β2, —β3, and Type I and Type II receptors in various cells in the nucleus pulposus and anulus fibrosus.

Immunolocalization of TGFβs and Type I and II receptors was examined during the aging process of cervical intervertebral discs in senescence-accelerated mice (SAM). The TGFβ family has important roles for cellular function of various tissues. Its role in disc aging, however, is unknown. Detailed information on the temporal and spatial localization of TGFβs and their receptors in discs is required before discussing introduction of them clinically into the intervertebral disc.

Methods. Three groups of five SAM each were used. The groups of SAM were age 8, 24, and 50 weeks, respectively. Hematoxylin and eosin staining and immunohistochemical study involving specific antibodies for TGFβ1, -β2, -β3, and Types I and II TGF receptors were performed.

Intervertebral discs exhibited degenerative change with advancing age. The TGFβs and their receptors were present in the fibrocartilaginous cells within the anulus fibrosus and notochord-like cells within the nucleus pulposus of young mice. Expression of TGFβs and Type I and Type II receptors changed markedly in the cells within the anulus fibrosus during the aging process.

Conclusions. The TGFβs and their receptors were present in cells within the nucleus pulposus and the anulus fibrosus of young mice, and their expression decreased with age.

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Shunji Matsunaga, Takashi Sakou, Kyoji Hayashi, Yasuhiro Ishidou, Masataka Hirotsu, and Setsuro Komiya

Object. In these prospective and retrospective studies the authors evaluated trauma-induced myelopathy in patients with ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL) to determine the effectiveness of preventive surgery for this disease.

Methods. The authors studied 552 patients with cervical OPLL, including 184 with myelopathy at the time of initial consultation and 368 patients without myelopathy at that time. In the former group of 184 patients retrospective analysis was performed using an interview survey to ascertain the relationship between onset of myelopathy and trauma. In the latter group of 368 patients prospective examination was conducted by assessing radiographic findings and noting changes in clinical symptoms apparent during regular physical examination. The follow-up period ranged from 10 to 32 years (mean 19.6 years).

In the retrospective investigation, 24 patients (13%) identified cervical trauma as the trigger of their myelopathy. In the prospective investigation, 70% of patients did not develop myelopathy over a follow-up period greater than 20 years (determined using the Kaplan—Meier method). Of the 368 patients without myelopathy at the time of initial consultation, only six patients (2%) subsequently developed trauma-induced myelopathy. Types of ossification in patients who developed trauma-induced myelopathy were primarily a mixed type. All patients in whom stenosis affected 60% or greater of the spinal canal developed myelopathy regardless of a history of trauma.

Conclusions. Preventive surgery prior to onset of myelopathy is unnecessary in most patients with OPLL.

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Shunji Matsunaga, Takanori Imakiire, HIroaki Koga, Yasuhiro Ishidou, Hiromi Sasaki, Eiji Taketomi, Masaru Higo, Hiroshi Tanaka, and Setsuro Komiya


Little has been published about subclinical spinal canal stenosis due to C-1 hypoplasia in patients with Down syndrome. In this paper the authors performed a matched comparison study with cross-sectional survey to investigate occult spinal canal stenosis due to C-1 hypoplasia in children with Down syndrome.


A total of 102 children with Down syndrome ranging in age from 10 to 15 years were matched according to age and physique with 176 normal children. In all participants, the anteroposterior (AP) diameter of C-1 and the atlas–dens interval (ADI) were measured on plain lateral x-ray images of the cervical spine. The cross-sectional area of the atlas was also measured from a cross-sectional computed tomography image of C-1.


Eight children (6.7%) with Down syndrome developed atlantoaxial subluxation associated with myelopathy. The difference in the ADI between the patients and controls was not statistically significant. The average AP diameter of the atlas and the spinal canal area along the cross-section of the atlas were significantly smaller in children with Down syndrome than those in the control group.


Atlantoaxial instability and occult spinal canal stenosis due to C-1 hypoplasia in patients with Down syndrome may significantly increase the risk of myelopathy.

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Takaki Inoue, Satoshi Maki, Toshitaka Yoshii, Takeo Furuya, Satoru Egawa, Kenichiro Sakai, Kazuo Kusano, Yukihiro Nakagawa, Takashi Hirai, Kanichiro Wada, Keiichi Katsumi, Kengo Fujii, Atsushi Kimura, Narihito Nagoshi, Tsukasa Kanchiku, Yukitaka Nagamoto, Yasushi Oshima, Kei Ando, Masahiko Takahata, Kanji Mori, Hideaki Nakajima, Kazuma Murata, Shunji Matsunaga, Takashi Kaito, Kei Yamada, Sho Kobayashi, Satoshi Kato, Tetsuro Ohba, Satoshi Inami, Shunsuke Fujibayashi, Hiroyuki Katoh, Haruo Kanno, Shiro Imagama, Masao Koda, Yoshiharu Kawaguchi, Katsushi Takeshita, Morio Matsumoto, Seiji Ohtori, Masashi Yamazaki, Atsushi Okawa, and


It is unclear whether anterior cervical decompression and fusion (ADF) or laminoplasty (LMP) results in better outcomes for patients with K-line–positive (+) cervical ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL). The purpose of the study is to compare surgical outcomes and complications of ADF versus LMP in patients with K-line (+) OPLL.


The study included 478 patients enrolled in the Japanese Multicenter Research Organization for Ossification of the Spinal Ligament and who underwent surgical treatment for cervical OPLL. The patients who underwent anterior-posterior combined surgery or posterior decompression with instrumented fusion were excluded. The patients with a follow-up period of fewer than 2 years were also excluded, leaving 198 patients with K-line (+) OPLL. Propensity score matching was performed on 198 patients with K-line (+) OPLL who underwent ADF (44 patients) or LMP (154 patients), resulting in 39 pairs of patients based on the following predictors for surgical outcomes: age, preoperative Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) score, C2–7 angle, and the occupying ratio of OPLL. Clinical outcomes were assessed 1 and 2 years after surgery using the recovery rate of the JOA score. Complications and reoperation rates were also investigated.


The mean recovery rate of the JOA score 1 year after surgery was 55.3% for patients who underwent ADF and 42.3% (p = 0.06) for patients who underwent LMP. Two years after surgery, the recovery rate was 53.4% for those who underwent ADF and 38.7% for LMP (p = 0.07). Although both surgical procedures yielded good results, the mean recovery rate of JOA scores tended to be higher in the ADF group. The incidence of surgical complications, however, was higher following ADF (33%) than LMP (15%; p = 0.06). The reoperation rate was also higher in the ADF group (15%) than in the LMP group (0%; p = 0.01).


Clinical outcomes were good for both ADF and LMP, indicating that ADF and LMP are appropriate procedures for patients with K-line (+) OPLL. Clinical outcomes of ADF 1 and 2 years after surgery tended to be better than LMP, but the analysis did not detect any significant difference in clinical outcomes between the groups. Conversely, patients who underwent ADF had a higher incidence of surgery-related complications. When considering indications for ADF or LMP, benefits and risks of the surgical procedures should be carefully weighed.