J Korean Neurosurg Soc.  2015 Nov;58(5):442-447. 10.3340/jkns.2015.58.5.442.

The Clinical Significance of Ossification of Ligamentum Nuchae in Simple Lateral Radiograph : A Correlation with Cervical Ossification of Posterior Longitudinal Ligament

  • 1Department of Neurosurgery, Research Institute of Clinical Medicine of Chonbuk National University, Biomedical Research Institute of Chonbuk National University Hospital, Jeonju, Korea. timoh@jbnu.ac.kr


Ossification of the ligamentum nuchae (OLN) is usually asymptomatic and incidentally observed in cervical lateral radiographs. Previous literatures reported the correlation between OLN and cervical spondylosis. The purpose of this study was to elucidate the clinical significance of OLN with relation to cervical ossification of posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL).
We retrospectively compared the prevalence of OPLL in 105 patients with OLN and without OLN and compared the prevalence of OLN in 105 patients with OPLL and without OPLL. We also analyzed the relationship between the morphology of OLN and involved OPLL level. The OPLL level was classified as short (1-3) or long (4-6), and the morphologic subtype of OLN was categorized as round, rod, or segmented.
The prevalence of OPLL was significantly higher in the patients with OLN (64.7%) than without OLN (16.1%) (p=0.0001). And the prevalence of OLN was also higher in the patients with OPLL (54.2%) than without OPLL (29.5%) (p=0.0002). In patients with round type OLN, 5 of 26 (19.2%) showed long level OPLL, while in patients with larger type (rod and segmented) OLN, 22 of 42 (52.3%) showed long level OPLL (p=0.01).
There was significant relationship between OLN and OPLL prevalence. This correlation indicates that there might be common systemic causes as well as mechanical causes in the formation of OPLL and OLN. The incidentally detected OLN in cervical lateral radiograph, especially larger type, might be helpful to predict the possibility of cervical OPLL.


Ossification of ligamentum nuchae; Ossification of posterior longitudinal ligament; Spinal ligament ossification syndrome; Cervical spine

MeSH Terms

Ossification of Posterior Longitudinal Ligament*
Retrospective Studies
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