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Case Reports
. 2001 Jan 1;26(1):110-4.
doi: 10.1097/00007632-200101010-00019.

Hypertrophy of the Posterior Longitudinal Ligament Is a Prodromal Condition to Ossification: A Cervical Myelopathy Case Report

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Case Reports

Hypertrophy of the Posterior Longitudinal Ligament Is a Prodromal Condition to Ossification: A Cervical Myelopathy Case Report

S Kondo et al. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). .

Abstract

Study design: A histopathologic examination of a specimen that showed hypertrophy of the posterior longitudinal ligament of the cervical spine.

Objectives: To illustrate the possibility of hypertrophy of the posterior longitudinal ligament as a prodromal condition to ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament.

Summary of background data: Despite much study, the pathology of ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament still remains unclear. Hypertrophic change often is seen in the part of the ossified ligament; however, there have been few histopathologic reports on hypertrophy of the posterior longitudinal ligament. Some reports have suggested that hypertrophy of the posterior longitudinal ligament is a prodrome of ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament.

Methods: A 64-year-old man was admitted to the hospital because of gait disturbance and developed oliguria. In a plain radiograph, segmental ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament was found at C4, C5, and C6. Computed tomograph myelogram revealed a soft tissue shadow, maximum 3.8 mm in diameter, on the dorsal side of the ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament at C5 and C6. Magnetic resonance T1-weighted image (T1WI) showed an equivalent signal with the intervertebral disc on the dorsal side of ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament. This lesion was enhanced with Gd-DTPA and confirmed as hypertrophy of the posterior longitudinal ligament. Cervical anterior decompression and fusion were performed using Yamaura's technique. The ossified and thickened lesion was elevated and removed en bloc. Then, hematoxylin-eosin and toluidine blue staining was performed to detect metachromasia.

Results: Macroscopic examination of the specimen revealed that soft tissue formation was connected with the C4-C5 intervertebral space and extended downward to C6-C7. Histopatholgically, collagen fibers were proliferating in the long-axis direction on both ventral and dorsal sides. This was surrounded by extended nucleus pulposus-like chondrocyte tissue, where endplate cartilage was detected around the C4 pedicle. Roux staining was low, and partial vascular and cellular infiltration was observed, although it was not marked.

Conclusion: The herniated nucleus pulposus involving endplate cartilage from C4-C5 was limited to the superficial layer, and proliferation of nucleus pulposus-like chondrocytes occurred in the herniated tissue, where they might undergo a change in cell phenotype. The results of the present study support the hypothesis that hypertrophy of the posterior longitudinal ligament is a prodromal condition to ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament.

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