Ossification of the Posterior Longitudinal Ligament

Ray Ballinger, MD, PhD

Straub Clinic & Hospital / Hawaii Pacific Health

rballinger at straub.net


57 y/o woman with radicular symptoms in upper extremities


plain MRI CT spine

Publication Date: 18 June 2004
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History and Images

57 y/o woman of Japanese decent with pain in the right arm and numbness in the left hand.

lateral plain filmSaggital T2-weighted MRSaggital T1-weighted MR
Axial T2*-weighted MR Axial CT image Saggital reconstruction of CT


The lateral plain film shows ossification along the posterior C5 and C6 vertebral bodies. The MRI and CT scan images show thickening and ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament from C4 through C7.


Ossification of the Posterior Longitudinal Ligament


Ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL) is a relatively common cause of spinal stenosis in Japanese patients most frequently involving the cervical spine. Males or more frequently involved than females and the 5th decade of life is a common time for symptoms to develop. As can be seen in this case MRI and CT are very sensitive and specific studies for this disease with findings being subtle on plain films.