Clinical manifestations of diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis of the cervical spine

Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2002 Oct;32(2):130-5. doi: 10.1053/sarh.2002.33726.


Objectives: To describe the clinical manifestations and the complications of cervical spine (C-spine) involvement in diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH).

Methods: Two patients, who presented with dysphagia resulting from large anterior osteophytes of the C-spine, were diagnosed as having DISH. A Medline search from 1964 to present, using the terms "diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis" and "cervical spine," identified several clinical manifestations associated with DISH.

Results: Two groups of conditions associated with DISH were found. 1. Spontaneous complications such as: dysphagia, being the commonest, dyspnea, stridor, myelopathy associated with ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL) or with atlanto-axial pseudoarthrosis or subluxation. Other rare events were aspiration pneumonia, sleep apnea and thoracic outlet syndrome. 2. Provoked complications such as endoscopic and intubation difficulties and fractures of the C-spine with frequent transverse shift of the fractured segment and resultant myelopathy.

Conclusions: C-spine involvement in DISH is a recognized cause of various clinical manifestations involving the pharynx, larynx and the esophagus. Prior knowledge of the existence of cervical DISH should alert the clinicians for possible complications, at times severe, during invasive procedures in the neck region and as a consequence of trauma.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analgesics / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / administration & dosage
  • Blood Chemical Analysis
  • Cervical Vertebrae*
  • Deglutition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Deglutition Disorders / etiology*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hyperostosis, Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal / complications
  • Hyperostosis, Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal / diagnosis*
  • Hyperostosis, Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Pain Measurement
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Analgesics
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal