3-D CT Useful for Classification of Ligament Ossification

Combining 3-D CT with MRI useful for detecting spinal cord compression

THURSDAY, Oct. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Use of three-dimensional computed tomography (3-D CT) to visualize ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL) can aid with classification of lesions, according to a study published in the October issue of The Spine Journal.

Yoshiharu Kawaguchi, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Toyama in Japan, and colleagues evaluated the use of 3-D CT in visualizing and classifying OPLL, and the additional advantage of using MRI to determine the extent of spinal cord compression. A total of 55 patients with OPLL diagnosed by lateral radiography of the cervical spine between April 2006 and March 2007 were classified as continuous, segmental, mixed, or other type and were compared with OPLL categorized as flat, irregular, or localized based on 3-D CT.

The investigators found that the 3-D CT and lateral radiography visualized areas of the ossified lesions were the same in 71 percent of the patients. In the remaining patients, the lesions were too small or unclear to be visualized by lateral radiography. The 3-D CT imaging, and not lateral radiography, showed that the transverse width of OPLL was within the bilateral Luschka joints in all cases. Spinal cord compression was noted at the superior or inferior edges of the ossified lesions that had been visualized by 3-D CT in 13 of the 14 patients who underwent MRI.

"3-D CT can be the basis for a new classification of OPLL," the authors write. "Combining 3-D CT with MRI might be useful to detect the patterns, distribution, extent, and cord compression in OPLL."

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