- Case report
- Open Access
Thoracic spondylolisthesis and spinal cord compression in diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis: a case report
Journal of Medical Case Reports volume 11, Article number: 90 (2017)
Diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis has long been regarded as a benign asymptomatic clinical entity with an innocuous clinical course. Neurological complications are rare in diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis. However, if they do occur, the consequences are often significant enough to warrant major neurosurgical intervention. Neurological complications occur when the pathological process of ossification in diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis extends to other vertebral ligaments, causing ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligaments and/or ossification of the ligamentum flavum. Thoracic spondylolisthesis with spinal cord compression in diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis has not previously been reported in the literature.
A 78-year-old Japanese man presented with a 6-month history of gait disturbance. A magnetic resonance imaging scan of his cervical and thoracic spine revealed anterior spondylolisthesis and severe cord compression at T3 to T4 and T10 to T11, as well as high signal intensity in a T2-weighted image at T10/11. Computed tomography revealed diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis at T4 to T10. He underwent partial laminectomy of T10 and posterior fusion of T9 to T12. The postoperative magnetic resonance imaging revealed resolution of the spinal cord compression and an improvement in the high signal intensity on the T2-weighted image.
We report the first case of thoracic spondylolisthesis and spinal cord compression in diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis. Neurosurgical intervention resulted in a significant improvement of our patient’s neurological symptoms.
Diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH) has long been regarded as a benign asymptomatic clinical entity with an innocuous clinical course [1–3]. DISH rarely causes neurological complications, as evidenced by isolated case reports on the subject; however, if neurological complications do occur, they are often severe enough to warrant major neurosurgical intervention [1–4]. Neurological complications occur in DISH when the pathological process of ossification extends to other vertebral ligaments, causing ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligaments (OPLL) and/or ossification of the ligamentum flavum (OLF) . A retrospective analysis of 74 cases of DISH conducted by Sharma et al. found that 11 patients had presented with progressive spinal cord compression or cauda equina syndrome. Of these, OPLL was responsible in nine cases and OLF in two . However, thoracic spondylolisthesis and spinal cord compression in DISH has not previously been reported in the literature. We report the first case of thoracic spondylolisthesis and spinal cord compression in DISH. Neurosurgical intervention relieved the patient’s neurological symptoms significantly.
A 78-year-old Japanese man presented with a 6-month history of gait disturbance. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of his lumbar spine revealed lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS). He could not walk outdoors. A neurological examination of muscle weakness of his iliopsoas and quadriceps femoris suggested possible spinal cord compression. Cervical and thoracic spine MRI revealed anterior spondylolisthesis and severe cord compression at T3 to T4 and T10 to T11, and high signal intensity on a T2-weighted image at T10/11 (Fig. 1). An X-ray revealed intervertebral disc space narrowing and anterior spondylolisthesis at T3/4 and T10/11 (Fig. 2). A myelogram-computed tomography (CT) scan showed anterior spondylolisthesis and severe cord compression at the T10/11 level. OPLL and OLF were not seen at T10/11. DISH was noted above the T10 level (Fig. 3). We determined that the lesion responsible was located at the T10/11 level. He underwent partial laminectomy at T10 and posterior fusion at T9 to T12. He could walk outdoors with one T-cane postoperatively. Postoperative CT detected DISH between T4 and T10 and anatomical repositioning of the anterior spondylolisthesis previously noted at T10. Postoperative MRI revealed resolution of the spinal cord compression and an improvement in the high signal intensity on the T2-weighted image (Fig. 4).
DISH is a non-inflammatory skeletal disease characterized by calcification and ossification of soft tissues, primarily ligaments and entheses. DISH is also known as senile ankylosing hyperostosis . DISH involving the spine is identified radiologically by flowing ligamentous ossification and calcification of the anterolateral aspect of the vertebral body with relatively well-preserved disc space . The radiographic criteria, as defined by Utsinger et al., includes: (1) bridging osteophytes extending over four contiguous vertebral bodies; (2) relatively normal intervening disk space height in relation to height in relation to age; and (3) absence of apophyseal joints, bony ankyloses, and absence of erosion, sclerosis, or osseous fusion of the sacroiliac joints . Our patient met all these criteria.
Spinal involvement of DISH is characterized radiologically by flowing ossification of the anterior longitudinal ligament, which is typically separated from the anterior aspect of the vertebral body by a thin radiolucent line . The spinal longitudinal ligaments and entheses slowly ossify and show decreased mobility in the affected region until complete ankylosis results. DISH frequently begins in the lower thoracic spinal segments, before extending into the upper thoracic segments and lumbar spine .
DISH results in the fusion of several spinal segments, which amplify the biomechanical load on the unaffected segments. Hypermobility of the spinal segment causes disc degeneration or hypertrophy of the OLF, thus resulting in LSS.
The main point of interest in the present case was the slow progression of myelopathy due to T10 anterior spondylolisthesis in a patient with DISH. In this case, DISH between T4 and T10 caused disc degeneration and anterior spondylolisthesis in T3 to T4 and T10 to T11. Hypermobility of the spinal segment gradually led to spinal cord compression.
To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of thoracic spondylolisthesis and spinal cord compression in a patient with DISH. Neurosurgical intervention provided significant relief of our patient’s symptoms. Patients with significant neurological deficits due to spinal cord compression often require surgical intervention. The type of surgery depends on the site and type of compression.
We report the first case of thoracic spondylolisthesis and spinal cord compression in DISH. Neurosurgical intervention resulted in significant improvement of our patient’s neurological symptoms.
Diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis
Lumbar spinal stenosis
Magnetic resonance imaging
Ossification of the ligamentum flavum
Ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligaments
Reisner A, Stiles RG, Tindal SC. Diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis causing acute thoracic myelopathy. A case report and discussion. Neurosurgery. 1990;26:507–11.
Alegnhat JP, Hallet M, Koha DK. Spinal cord compression in diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis. Radiology. 1982;142:119–20.
Johnson KE, Peterson H, Wollheim FA, Säveland H. Diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH) causing spinal stenosis and sudden paraplegia. J Rheumatol. 1983;10:784–9.
Stechison MT, Tator CH. Cervical myelopathy in diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis. Case report. J Neurosurg. 1990;73:279–82.
Sharma RR, Mahapatra A, Pawar SJ, Sousa J, Lad SD, Athale SD. Spinal cord and cauda equina compression in ‘DISH’. Neurol India. 2001;49:148–52.
Forestier J, Rotes-Querol J. Hyperostosis ankylosante vertebrale senile. Rev Rheum. 1950;17:525–34.
Resnick D, Shaul SR, Robins JM. Diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH): Forestier’s disease with extraspinal manifestations. Radiology. 1975;115:513–24.
Utsinger PD, Resnick D, Sapiro R. Diffuse skeletal abnormalities in Forestier’s disease. Arch Int Med. 1976;136:163–8.
Resnick D, Niwayama G. Radiographic and pathologic features of spinal involvement in diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH). Radiology. 1976;119:559–68.
Yamada K, Toyoda H, Terai H, Takahashi S, Nakamura H. Spinopelvic alignment of diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis in lumbar spinal stenosis. Eur Spine J. 2014;23:1302–8.
Not applicable. No assistance was utilized in the writing of the manuscript.
The authors have no relevant affiliations or financial involvement with any organization or entity with a financial interest in or financial conflict with the subject matter or materials discussed in the manuscript.
Availability of data and materials
Medical imaging data will not be shared because it is not fully anonymous.
YT and HH performed the operation. YT, HY, HE, HH, TI, KS, YK, KK, and HT determined the treatment plan. YT and HH conducted the follow-up. YT wrote the draft of the manuscript, which was revised by HT. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Consent for publication
Written informed consent was obtained from the patient for publication of this case report and any accompanying images. A copy of the written consent is available for review by the Editor-in-Chief of this journal.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Rights and permissions
Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
About this article
Cite this article
Takagi, Y., Yamada, H., Ebara, H. et al. Thoracic spondylolisthesis and spinal cord compression in diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis: a case report. J Med Case Reports 11, 90 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13256-017-1252-0
- Spinal cord compression
- Diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis
- Thoracic spine