Although numbness is one of the chief complaints of patients with cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM), preoperative factors relating to residual numbness of the upper extremity (UE) and impact of the outcomes on cervical surgery are not well established. The authors hypothesized that severe preoperative UE numbness could be a risk factor for residual UE numbness after surgery and that the residual UE numbness could have a negative impact on postoperative outcomes. Therefore, this study aimed to identify the preoperative factors that are predictive of residual UE numbness after cervical surgery and demonstrate the effects of residual UE numbness on clinical scores and radiographic parameters.
The study design was a retrospective cohort study. The authors analyzed data of 103 patients who underwent cervical laminoplasty from January 2012 to December 2014 and were followed up for more than 2 years postoperatively. The patients were divided into two groups: the severe residual-numbness group (postoperative visual analog scale [VAS] score for UE numbness > 40 mm) and the no/mild residual-numbness group (VAS score ≤ 40 mm). The outcome measures were VAS score, Japanese Orthopaedic Association scores for cervical myelopathy, physical and mental component summaries of the 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36), radiographic film parameters (C2–7 sagittal vertical axis, range of motion, C2–7 lordotic angle, and C7 slope), and MRI findings (severity of cervical canal stenosis, snake-eye appearance, severity of foraminal stenosis). Following univariate analysis, which compared the preoperative factors between groups, the variables with p values < 0.1 were included in the multivariate linear regression analysis. Additionally, the changes in clinical scores and radiographic parameters after 2 years of surgery were compared using a mixed-effects model.
Among 103 patients, 42 (40.8%) had residual UE numbness. In the multivariate analysis, sex and preoperative UE pain were found to be independent variables correlating with residual UE numbness (p = 0.017 and 0.046, respectively). The severity of preoperative UE numbness did not relate to the residual UE numbness (p = 0.153). The improvement in neck pain VAS score and physical component summary of the SF-36 was significantly low in the severe residual-numbness group (p < 0.001 and 0.040, respectively).
Forty-one percent of the CSM patients experienced residual UE numbness for at least 2 years after cervical posterior decompression surgery. Female sex and preoperative severe UE pain were the predictive factors for residual UE numbness. The patients with residual UE numbness showed less improvement of neck pain and lower physical status compared to the patients without numbness.