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Do you have Ossification of the Posterior Longitudinal Ligament?

September 20, 2019  ·  By HM&M

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Ossification of the Posterior Longitudinal Ligament (OPLL) is a relatively common but often overlooked and misdiagnosed condition that can occurs when a ligament that runs along the spinal column, in from of the spinal cord, becomes thicker and bony [“ossifies”]. This usually occurs as we age.

If you have these symptoms, you may have OPLL:

  • Pain, tingling, or numbness in the neck, shoulder, arm, or hand
  • Difficulty walking and leg weakness
  • Difficulty with bowel and bladder control

OPLL exists in up to 25% of the U.S. population of individuals suffering neurologic issues that impact the neck, arms, hands and legs. Neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons—the physicians who treat spine and spinal cord problems—often overlook and misdiagnose the symptoms of OPLL, due to inexperience or failure to order proper testing in patients with the above neurologic symptoms.

OPLL causes spinal cord compression and can lead to permanent spinal cord injury if the compression on the spinal cord is not relieved in time. This dangerous spinal cord compression can occur during and after common spine surgeries such as an Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion [ACDF] or Posterior Laminectomy and Fusion. The result of misdiagnosis or improper treatment of OPLL can be permanent paralysis or quadriplegia.

Misdiagnosed and improperly treated OPLL continues to result in needless suffering and life-changing disability in the United States. The attorneys at Hurley McKenna & Mertz have extensive experience representing individuals with OPLL who are victims of medical malpractice. If you or a family member have been a victim of medical malpractice and need help or have questions regarding OPLL, call us at 312.553.4900.


Epstein NE, What you need to know about ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament to optimize cervical spine surgery: a review. Surg Neurol Int. 2014;5:S93–S118.

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