Guanghui Chen, Tianqi Fan, Xiaoxi Yang, Chuiguo Sun, Dongwei Fan, Zhongqiang Chen

September 2020, Volume 29, Issue 9, pp 2164 - 2172 Review Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-020-06520-6

First Online: 15 July 2020


Thoracic spinal stenosis (TSS) is a rare disease secondary to multiple pathological changes that differ in prevalence and clinical characteristics. The epidemiological characteristics of these pathologies are largely unknown due to the limited case samples and regional differences. Therefore, a systematic review was conducted to elucidate the prevalence and clinical characteristics of TSS.


Case series and case reports on the ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligaments (OPLL), ossification of the ligamentum flavum (OLF) and thoracic disk herniation (TDH) were screened from PubMed, Embase and Web of Science databases and systematically reviewed. Epidemiological, demographic and segmental distribution data were extracted and analyzed.


A total of 129 studies including 1935 subjects were selected, of which 361 (18.7%) were diagnosed with OPLL, 804 (41.5%) with OLF, 143 (7.4%) with OPLL + OLF and 627 (32.4%) with TDH. Most reports were from China, Japan and USA. Thoracic OPLL occurred mostly at the middle-thoracic spine (43.4%), while OLF predominately occurred at the lower-thoracic spine (63.1%). TDH was mainly localized in the middle (46.0%) and lower-thoracic (50.3%) spine. Thirty-two studies involving 524 patients described tandem spinal stenosis, of which 52.1% had accompanying cervical diseases and 35.9% lumbar diseases.


There are significant differences in the age, sex and segment distribution characteristics of different pathologies leading to TSS. Tandem spinal stenosis is not uncommon and should be considered when diagnosing TSS. Our findings provide new insights into the prevalence and clinical characteristics of TSS and can help reduce misdiagnosis.

Read Full Article