The objective of this systematic review was to use evidence-based medicine to assess whether preoperative imaging or electromyography (EMG) predicts surgical outcomes in patients undergoing cervical surgery.
The National Library of Medicine and Cochrane Database were queried using MeSH headings and keywords relevant to the preoperative imaging and EMG. Abstracts were reviewed after which studies meeting inclusion criteria were selected. The guidelines group assembled an evidentiary table summarizing the quality of evidence (Classes I–III). Disagreements regarding the level of evidence were resolved through an expert consensus conference. The group formulated recommendations that contained the degree of strength based on the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines network. Validation was done through peer review by the Joint Guidelines Committee of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons/Congress of Neurological Surgeons.
Preoperative MR imaging and CT myelography are successful in confirming clinical radiculopathy (Class II). Multilevel T2 hyperintensity, T1 focal hypointensity combined with T2 focal hyperintensity, and spinal cord atrophy each convey a poor prognosis (Class III). There is conflicting data concerning whether focal T2 hyperintensity or cervical stenosis are associated with a worse outcome. Electromyography has mixed utility in predicting outcome (Class III).
Magnetic resonance imaging or CT myelography are important for preoperative assessment. Magnetic resonance imaging may be helpful in assessing prognosis, whereas EMG has mixed utility in assessing outcome.