MRI-based detection of cervical ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament using a novel automated machine learning diagnostic tool

Shachar Shemesh, Gil Kimchi, Gal Yaniv, Ran Harel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE Currently, CT is considered the gold standard for the diagnosis of ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL). The objective of this study was to develop artificial intelligence (AI) software and a validated model for the identification and representation of cervical OPLL (C-OPLL) on MRI, obviating the need for spine CT. METHODS A retrospective evaluation was performed of consecutive imaging studies of all adult patients who underwent both cervical CT and MRI for any clinical indication within a span of 36 months (between January 2017 and July 2020) in a single tertiary-care referral hospital. C-OPLL was identified by a panel of neurosurgeons and a neuroradiologist. MATLAB software was then used to create an AI tool for the diagnosis of C-OPLL by using a convolutional neural network method to identify features on MR images. A reader study was performed to compare the performance of the AI model to that of the diagnostic panel using standard test performance metrics. Interobserver variability was assessed using Cohen’s kappa score. RESULTS Nine hundred consecutive patients were found to be eligible for radiological evaluation, yielding 65 identified C-OPLL carriers. The AI model, utilizing MR images, was able to accurately segment the vertebral bodies, PLL, and discoligamentous complex, and detect C-OPLL carriers. The AI model identified 5 additional C-OPLL patients who were not initially detected. The performance of the MRI-based AI model resulted in a sensitivity of 85%, specificity of 98%, negative predictive value of 98%, and positive predictive value of 85%. The overall accuracy of the model was 98%, with a kappa score of 0.917. CONCLUSIONS The novel AI software developed in this study was highly specific for identifying C-OPLL on MRI, without the use of CT. This model may obviate the need for CT scans while maintaining adequate diagnostic accuracy. With further development, this MRI-based AI model has the potential to aid in the diagnosis of various spinal disorders and its automated layers may lay the foundation for MRI-specific diagnostic criteria for C-OPLL.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberE11
JournalNeurosurgical Focus
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2023


  • MRI
  • OPLL
  • artificial intelligence
  • machine learning
  • neural network
  • ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament


Dive into the research topics of 'MRI-based detection of cervical ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament using a novel automated machine learning diagnostic tool'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this