An Analysis of Factors Causing Poor Surgical Outcome in Patients With Cervical Myelopathy Due to Ossification of the Posterior Longitudinal Ligament: Anterior Decompression With Spinal Fusion Versus Laminoplasty

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We compared the surgical outcome of anterior decompression with spinal fusion (ASF) with the surgical outcome of laminoplasty for patients with cervical myelopathy due to ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament.


The study group comprised 19 ASF patients (A-group) and 40 laminoplasty patients (P-group) treated from 1993 to 2002 with 1 year or longer follow-up. The Japanese Orthopedic Association scoring system was used to evaluate cervical myelopathy, and the recovery rate calculated 1 year after surgery.


The mean recovery rate was 68.4% in the A-group and 52.5% in the P-group (P<0.05). Fifteen patients had a recovery rate less than 40%: 2 in the A-group and 13 in the P-group. One P-group patient and none of the A-group patients developed postoperative aggravation of their neurologic status. The P-group was divided into 2 subgroups: a good outcome group comprising patients whose recovery rate was 40% or higher (n=27) and a poor outcome group comprising patients whose recovery rate was less than 40% (n=13). The mean age at surgery was 59.9 years in the good outcome group and 68.0 years in the poor outcome group (P<0.05). The mean range of intervertebral mobility at maximum cord compression level before surgery was 6.9 degrees in the good outcome group and 10 degrees in the poor outcome group (P<0.05).


These results demonstrated that the surgical outcome of ASF was superior to the surgical outcome of laminoplasty. Elderly patients treated with laminoplasty showed an especially poor surgical outcome. We suggest that hypermobility of vertebrae at the cord compression level is a risk factor for poor surgical outcome after laminoplasty. Based on these results, we recommend that ASF should be the first choice of treatment for patients with significant ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament and a hypermobile cervical spine. When laminoplasty is used for such cases, the addition of posterior instrumented fusion would be desirable for stabilizing the spine and decreasing damage to the spinal cord.

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