Background: In patients with ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL) in the cervical spine, it is well known that the thoracic ossified lesions often coexist with the cervical lesions and can cause severe myelopathy. However, the prevalence of OPLL at each level of the thoracic and lumbar spinal segments is unknown. The aims of this study were to investigate how often OPLL occurs at each level in the thoracolumbar spine in patients with a radiological diagnosis of cervical OPLL and to identify the spinal levels most likely to develop ossification. Methods: Data were collected from 20 institutions in Japan. Three hundred and twenty-two patients with a diagnosis of cervical OPLL were included. The OPLL index (OP index), defined as the sum of the vertebral body and intervertebral disc levels where OPLL is present, was used to determine disease severity. An OP index ≥20 was defined as severe OPLL. The prevalence of OPLL at each level of the thoracic and lumbar spinal segments was calculated. Results: Women were more likely to have ossified lesions in the thoracolumbar spine than men. Severe OPLL was significantly more common in women than in men (20% vs. 4.5%). For thoracic vertebral OPLL, the most frequently affected was the T1 segment in both men and women, followed by the T1/2 and T3/4 intervertebral levels in men and women, respectively. Ossified lesions were frequently seen at the intervertebral and vertebral levels around the cervicothoracic and thoracolumbar junctions in men with severe OPLL, whereas OPLL was more diffusely distributed in the thoracic spine in women with severe OPLL. Conclusion: Thoracolumbar OPLL occurred most often at T1 in men and at T3/4 in women. In severe OPLL cases, although ossified lesions were frequently seen at the intervertebral and vertebral levels around the cervicothoracic and thoracolumbar junctions in men, OPLL could be observed more diffusely in the thoracic spine in women.
- Computed tomography
- Ossification predisposition
- Whole spine
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine