Endoscopic Posterior Cervical Decompression for Ossified Posterior Longitudinal Ligament: A Technical Note

Int J Spine Surg. 2023 Jun;17(3):356-363. doi: 10.14444/8453. Epub 2023 May 25.


Background: Ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL) may cause cervical myelopathy. In its multilevel form, it may not be easy to manage. Minimally invasive endoscopic posterior cervical decompression may be an alternative to traditional laminectomy surgery.

Methods: Thirteen patients with multilevel OPLL and symptomatic cervical myelopathy were treated with endoscopic spine surgery from January 2019 to June 2020. In this consecutive observational cohort study, pre- and postoperative Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) score and Neck Disability Index (NDI) were analyzed at a final follow-up of 2 years postoperatively.

Results: There were 13 patients consisting of 3 women and 10 men. The patient's average age was 51.15 years. At the final 2-year follow-up, the JOA score improved from a preoperative value of 10.85 ± 2.91 to 14.77 ± 2.13 postoperatively (P < 0.001). The corresponding NDI scores decreased from 26.61 ± 12.88 to 11.12 ± 10.85 (P < 0.001). There were no infections, wound complications, or reoperations.

Conclusion: Direct posterior endoscopic decompression for multilevel OPLL is feasible in symptomatic patients when executed at a high skill level. While 2-year outcomes were encouraging and on par with historic data obtained with traditional laminectomy, future studies will need to show whether any long-term shortcomings exist.

Keywords: Ossified posterior longitudinal ligament; cervical myelopathy; posterior cervical endoscopy.