Ossification of the ligamentum flavum

Ossification of the ligamentum flavum (OLF) is a phenomenon where there is a formation of ossific-calcific components in the ligamentum flavum. It is recognized causes of myelopathy (especially in the thoracic and to a lesser degree the cervical region).

The condition as a whole is uncommon. There is a higher prevalence in East Asian ethnic groups (especially Japan).

Both intrinsic (genetic and dietary factors) and extrinsic causes (biomechanical alterations) have been postulated. The spinal cord tends to usually get compressed from the posterior side and patients, therefore, tend to show symptoms such as loss of balanced walking (similar to posterior cord syndrome). 

In the cervical region, it can uncommonly be associated with ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament 9.

Management options vary from being conservative to surgical decompression. Some authors propose a  laminectomy combined with lateral fusion at the treatment of choice 8.  The postoperative outcome is generally considered good 8.

It is thought to have been first reported by Polgar on a lateral radiograph 1

Article information

rID: 36947
System: Spine
Tag: cases
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Ligamentum flavum ossification
  • Ossification of ligamentum flavum
  • Ossification of the ligamentum flavum (OLF)
  • Ossification of the yellow ligament (OYL)
  • Ossification of the yellow ligament

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