The pathomechanism of C5 palsy after cervical open-door laminoplasty is unknown despite the relatively common occurrence of this condition postoperatively. The aim of this study was to review clinical and imaging findings in patients with C5 palsy and to propose countermeasures for prevention of this complication.
Between 2001 and 2018, 326 patients with cervical myelopathy underwent cervical laminoplasty at the authors’ hospital, 10 (3.1%) of whom developed C5 palsy. Clinical features and radiological findings of patients with and without C5 palsy were analyzed.
In patients with C5 palsy, the width of the C5 intervertebral foramen was narrower and the position of the bony gutter was wider beyond the medial part of the C5 facet joint. The distance between the lateral side of the spinal cord and bony gutter was significantly greater in patients with C5 palsy. Patient characteristics, disease, cervical alignment, spinal canal expansion rate, anterior protrusion of the C5 superior articular process, high-intensity area in the spinal cord on T2-weighted MR images, posterior shift of the spinal cord, and operative time did not differ significantly between patients with and without C5 palsy.
The position of the bony gutter may have a central role in the pathomechanism of postoperative C5 palsy, especially in patients with a narrow C5 intervertebral foramen. Making an excessively lateral bony gutter might be a cause of C5 nerve root kinking at the intervertebral foramen. To prevent the occurrence of C5 palsy, it is important to confirm the medial line of the facet joint on the preoperative CT scan, and a high-speed burr should be started from inside of the facet joint and manipulated in a direction that allows the ligamentum flavum to be identified.