Ossification of the ligamentum flavum


Shigeru Hirabayashi

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Teikyo University Hospital, Tokyo, Japan


Ossification of the ligamentum flavum (OLF or OYL: ossification of the yellow ligament) usually occurs at the lower thoracic level and causes various types of neurological symptoms in accordance with the compression level of the spinal cord, the nerve roots, the conus medullaris, and the cauda equina. Although the greatest compression level to the nerve tissues is thought to be the most pathognomonic one, it is difficult to diagnose it in some cases. The effectiveness of conservative treatment such as applying a corset is small. Early surgical treatment is strongly recommended for the patients with spastic gait, severe decrease of muscle power in the lower extremities, bladder-bowel disturbance, combined ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament at the same level, and severe compression to the spinal cord due to thickly hypertrophied ossification. However, numbness of the lower extremities and spastic gait tend to remain even after surgery.

Released: October 27, 2017; doi: dx.doi.org/10.22603/ssrr.1.2016-0031