Byung-Jou Lee, Jin Hoon Park, Sang-Ryong Jeon, Seung-Chul Rhim, Sung Woo Roh

August 2019, Volume 28, Issue 8, pp 1846 - 1854 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-018-5750-6

First Online: 06 September 2018

Clinically significant radiographic parameter for thoracic myelopathy caused by ossification of the ligamentum flavum


To investigate radiographic parameters to improve the accuracy of radiologic diagnosis for ossification of ligamentum flavum (OLF)-induced thoracic myelopathy and thereby establish a useful diagnostic method for identifying the responsible segment.


We classified 101 patients who underwent surgical treatment for OLF-induced thoracic myelopathy as the myelopathy group and 102 patients who had incidental OLF and were hospitalized with compression fracture as the non-myelopathy group between January 2009 and December 2016. We measured the thickness of OLF (TOLF), cross-sectional area of OLF (AOLF), anteroposterior canal diameter, and the ratio of each of these parameters.


Most OLF cases with lateral-type axial morphology were in the non-myelopathy group and most with fused and tuberous type in the myelopathy group. Most grade-I and grade-II cases were also in the non-myelopathy group, whereas grade-IV cases were mostly observed in the myelopathy group. The AOLF ratio was found to be the best radiologic parameter. The optimal cutoff point of the AOLF ratio was 33.00%, with 87.1% sensitivity and 87.3% specificity. The AOLF ratio was significantly correlated with preoperative neurological status.


An AOLF ratio greater than 33% is the most accurate diagnostic indicator of OLF-induced thoracic myelopathy. In cases of multiple-segment OLF, confirmation of cord signal change on MRI and an AOLF measurement will help determine the responsible segment. AOLF measurement will also improve the accuracy of diagnosis of OLF-induced thoracic myelopathy in cases of grade III or extended-type axial morphology.

Graphical abstract

These slides can be retrieved under Electronic Supplementary Material.[Figure not available: see fulltext.]

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