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Shoichi Nagai, Nobutaka Yamamoto, Koichi Wakabayashi, Iwao Emura, Fumihiko Takeuchi, Tsutomu Umemori, Shuji Sato, and Shunro Endo

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Takaaki Urakawa, Hitoshi Matsuzawa, Yuji Suzuki, Naoto Endo, Ingrid L. Kwee, and Tsutomu Nakada

Object

The authors assessed the role of 3D anisotropy contrast (3DAC) in evaluating specific ascending tract degeneration in patients with cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM).

Methods

The authors studied 10 patients (2 women, 8 men; mean age 59.8 ± 14.6 years) with CSM and spinal cord compression below the C2–3 disc level, as well as 10 healthy control individuals (3 women, 7 men; mean age 42.0 ± 24.1 years). Images of the cervical cord at the C2–3 level were obtained using a 3.0-T MR imaging system.

Results

Three-dimensional anisotropy contrast imaging clearly made possible tract-by-tract analysis of the fasciculus cuneatus, fasciculus gracilis, and spinocerebellar tract. Tract degeneration identified using 3DAC showed good correlation with a decline in fractional anisotropy. Degeneration of the fasciculus gracilis detected by “vector contrast” demonstrated a good correlation with Nurick grades.

Conclusions

The study unambiguously demonstrated that 3DAC imaging is capable of assessing ascending tract degeneration in patients with CSM. Degeneration of an individual tract can be easily identified as a vector contrast change on the 3DAC image, a reflection of quantitative changes in anisotropism, similar to fractional anisotropy. Excellent correlation between Nurick grades and fasciculus gracilis degeneration suggests potential application of 3DAC imaging for tract-by-tract clinical correlation.

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Yuichiro Hisada, Tsutomu Endo, Yoshinao Koike, Masahiro Kanayama, Ryota Suzuki, Ryo Fujita, Katsuhisa Yamada, Akira Iwata, Hiroyuki Hasebe, Hideki Sudo, Norimasa Iwasaki, and Masahiko Takahata

OBJECTIVE

Data regarding risk factors for the progression of ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL) in the thoracic spine are scarce. Therefore, in this study, the authors aimed to elucidate the difference in the radiographic progression pattern of OPLL and its risk factors between cervical and thoracic OPLL using longitudinally acquired whole-spine CT scans.

METHODS

Overall, 123 patients with symptomatic OPLL who underwent repeated whole-spine CT examinations, with an average interval of 49 months (at least 3 years) between scans, were retrospectively reviewed. Progression of OPLL was assessed to compare the distribution of OPLL over the entire spine on the initial and final CT scans. Patients were divided into a cervical OPLL (C-OPLL) group and a thoracic OPLL (T-OPLL) group according to the location of the main lesion. The progression pattern of OPLL and its risk factors were compared between the two groups using the Student t-test or Mann-Whitney U-test.

RESULTS

In the C-OPLL group, 15 (22.1%) of 68 patients had OPLL progression, of whom 12 patients (80.0%) had progression only in the cervical spine and 3 patients (20.0%) had progression in multiple regions (cervical and thoracic/lumbar). In the T-OPLL group, 16 (29.1%) of 55 patients had OPLL progression, of which 3 patients (18.8%) had progression only in the thoracic spine and 8 patients (50.0%) had progression in multiple regions. Young age was a common risk factor for OPLL progression regardless of the location of OPLL, and this trend was more pronounced in the T-OPLL group than in the C-OPLL group. High BMI, male sex, and multilevel, severe T-OPLL were identified as independent risk factors for progression of T-OPLL (OR 1.19, 95% CI 1.03–1.37; OR 10.5, 95% CI 1.39–81.94; and OR 1.24, 95% CI 1.16–1.45, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS

Patients with T-OPLL are predisposed to diffuse progression of OPLL over the entire spine, whereas patients with C-OPLL are likely to have progression in only the cervical spine. Young age and high BMI are significant risk factors for OPLL progression, especially in patients with T-OPLL. Our study highlights the need for continued follow-up in patients with T-OPLL, especially in young patients and those with obesity, for early detection of spinal cord and cauda equina symptoms due to the progression of OPLL throughout the spine.