Thoracic myelopathy in Japan: Epidemiological retrospective study in Miyagi Prefecture during 15 years

Toshimi Aizawa, Tetsuro Sato, Yasuhisa Tanaka, Hiroshi Ozawa, Takeshi Hoshikawa, Yushin Ishii, Naoki Morozumi, Kentaro Ishibashi, Fumio Kasama, Hironori Hyodo, Eiichi Murakami, Takeshi Nishihira, Shoichi Kokubun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Thoracic myelopathy is defined as spinal cord compression in the thoracic region, leading to sensory and motor dysfunctions in the trunk and lower extremities, and can be caused by various degenerative processes of the spine. Thoracic myelopathy is rare, and there are many unsolved problems including its epidemiological and clinical features. We have established a registration system of spinal surgeries, which covered almost all surgeries in Miyagi Prefecture, and enrolled the data of 265 patients with thoracic myelopathy from 1988 to 2002. The annual rate of surgery gradually increased and averaged 0.9 per 100,000 inhabitants, which was less than 1/10 of that for cervical myelopathy. About 20 patients with thoracic myelopathy are operated on in Miyagi Prefecture each year. It frequently develops in middle-aged males. About half of the cases were caused by ossification of the ligamentum flavum, followed by ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament, intervertebral disc herniation and posterior spur. Patients usually noticed numbness or pain in the legs and the preoperative duration was long, averaging 2 years. Its symptomatic similarities to lumbar disorders might cause difficulty in making a correct diagnosis. Since thoracic myelopathy can markedly restrict the activities of daily life, even general physicians should recognize this entity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-208
Number of pages10
JournalTohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Nov 1


  • Epidemiological study
  • Ossification of the ligamentum flavum
  • Ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament
  • Thoracic myelopathy


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