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Kei Ando, Kazuyoshi Kobayashi, Masaaki Machino, Kyotaro Ota, Satoshi Tanaka, Masayoshi Morozumi, Sadayuki Ito, Shunsuke Kanbara, Taro Inoue, Naoki Ishiguro, and Shiro Imagama

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this study was to investigate the relationship between morphological changes in thoracic ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (T-OPLL) and postoperative neurological recovery after thoracic posterior fusion surgery. Changes of OPLL morphology and postoperative recovery in cases with T-OPLL have not been examined.

METHODS

In this prospective study, the authors evaluated data from 44 patients (23 male and 21 female) who underwent posterior decompression and fusion surgery with instrumentation for the treatment of T-OPLL at our hospital. The patients’ mean age at surgery was 50.7 years (range 38–68 years). The minimum duration of follow-up was 2 years. The location of thoracic ossification of the ligamentum flavum (T-OLF), T-OLF at the OPLL level, OPLL morphology, fusion range, estimated blood loss, operative time, pre- and postoperative Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) scores, and JOA recovery rate were investigated. Reconstructed sagittal multislice CT images were obtained before and at 3 and 6 months and 1 and 2 years after surgery. The basic fusion area was 3 vertebrae above and below the OPLL lesion. All parameters were compared between patients with and without continuity across the disc space at the OPLL at 3 and 6 months after surgery.

RESULTS

The preoperative morphology of OPLL was discontinuous across the disc space between the rostral and caudal ossification regions on sagittal CT images in all but one of the patients. Postoperatively, these segments became continuous in 42 patients (97.7%; occurring by 6.6 months on average) without progression of OPLL thickness. Patients with continuity at 3 months had significantly lower rates of diabetes mellitus (p < 0.05) and motor palsy in the lower extremities (p < 0.01). The group with continuity also had significantly higher mean postoperative JOA scores at 3 (p < 0.01) and 6 (p < 0.05) months and mean JOA recovery rates at 3 and 6 months (both p < 0.01) after surgery.

CONCLUSIONS

Preoperatively, discontinuity of rostral and caudal ossified lesions was found on CT in all patients but one of this group of 44 patients who needed surgery for T-OPLL. Rigid fixation with instrumentation may have allowed these segments to connect at the OPLL. Such OPLL continuity at an early stage after surgery may accelerate spinal cord recovery.

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Masaaki Machino, Kei Ando, Kazuyoshi Kobayashi, Hiroaki Nakashima, Shunsuke Kanbara, Sadayuki Ito, Taro Inoue, Hidetoshi Yamaguchi, Hiroyuki Koshimizu, Keigo Ito, Fumihiko Kato, Naoki Ishiguro, and Shiro Imagama

OBJECTIVE

Although increased signal intensity (ISI) on MRI is observed in patients with cervical spinal cord injury (SCI) without major bone injury, alterations in ISI have not been evaluated. The association between postoperative ISI and surgical outcomes remains unclear. This study elucidated whether or not the postoperative classification and alterations in MRI-based ISI of the spinal cord reflected the postoperative symptom severity and surgical outcomes in patients with SCI without major bone injury.

METHODS

One hundred consecutive patients with SCI without major bone injury (79 male and 21 female) with a mean age of 55 years (range 20–87 years) were included. All patients were treated with laminoplasty and underwent MRI pre- and postoperatively (mean 12.5 ± 0.8 months). ISI was classified into three groups on the basis of sagittal T2-weighted MRI: grade 0, none; grade 1, light (obscure); and grade 2, intense (bright). The neurological statuses were evaluated according to the Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) scoring system and the American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale (AIS).

RESULTS

Preoperatively, 8 patients had grade 0 ISI, 49 had grade 1, and 43 had grade 2; and postoperatively, 20 patients had grade 0, 24 had grade 1, and 56 had grade 2. The postoperative JOA scores and recovery rate (RR) decreased significantly with increasing postoperative ISI grade. The postoperative ISI grade tended to increase with the postoperative AIS grade. Postoperative grade 2 ISI was observed in severely paralyzed patients. The postoperative ISI grade improved in 23 patients (23%), worsened in 25 (25%), and remained unchanged in 52 (52%). Patients with an improved ISI grade had a better RR than those with a worsened ISI grade.

CONCLUSIONS

Postoperative ISI reflected postoperative symptom severity and surgical outcomes. Alterations in ISI were seen postoperatively in 48 patients (48%) and were associated with surgical outcomes.