OBJECT: Numerous surgical procedures have been developed for treatment of ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL) of the cervical spine, and these can be performed via three approaches: anterior, posterior, or combined anterior-posterior. The optimal approach in cases involving OPLL-induced cervical myelopathy, however, remains controversial. To address this issue, the authors assessed the benefits and limitations of expansive open-door laminoplasty for OPLL-related myelopathy by evaluating mid- and long-term clinical results. METHODS: Clinical results obtained in 72 patients who underwent expansive open-door laminoplasty between 1983 and 1997 and who were followed for at least 5 years were assessed using the Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) scoring system. The mean preoperative JOA score was 9.2 +/- 0.4; at 3 years postoperatively, the JOA score was 14.2 +/- 0.3 and the recovery rate (calculated using the Hirabayashi method) was 63.1 +/- 4.5%, both having reached their highest level. These favorable results were maintained up to 5 years after surgery. An increase in cervical myelopathy due to progression of the ossified ligament was observed in only two of 30 patients who could be followed for more than 10 years. Severe surgery-related complications were not observed. Preoperative JOA score, age at the time of surgery, and duration between onset of initial symptoms and surgery affected clinical results. CONCLUSIONS: Mid-term and long-term results of expansive open-door laminoplasty were satisfactory. Considering factors that affected surgical results, early surgery is recommended for OPLL of the cervical spine.
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