Ossification of the ligamentum flavum (OLF) is a rare cause of thoracic myelopathy. The aim of this study was to identify factors associated with the surgical outcome on the basis of preoperative clinical and radiological findings.
Data obtained in 26 patients whot underwent posterior decompression for thoracic myelopathy, caused by thoracic OLF, were analyzed retrospectively. Patient age, duration of symptoms, OLF type, preoperative and postoperative neurological status using the Japanese Orthopedic Association (JOA) scoring system, surgical outcome, and other factors were reviewed. We compared the various factors and postoperative prognosis. All patients had undergone decompressive laminectomy and excision of the OLF.
Using the JOA score, the functional improvement was excellent in 8 patients, good in 14, fair in 2, and unchanged in 2. A mean preoperative JOA score of 6.65 improved to 8.17 after an average of 27.3 months. According to our analysis, age, gender, duration of symptoms, the involved spinal level, coexisting spinal disorders, associated trauma, intramedullary signal change, and dural adhesions were not related to the surgical outcome. However, the preoperative JOA score and type of OLF were the most important predictors of the surgical outcome.
Early diagnosis and sufficient surgical decompression could improve the functional prognosis for thoracic OLF. The postoperative results were found to be significantly associated with the preoperative severity of myelopathy and type of OLF.