Object. Although respiratory function is often impaired by acute cervical spinal cord injury, changes in respiratory function in patients with chronic cervical myelopathy (CCM) are not well documented. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the respiratory function of patients with CCM.
Methods. Spirometric parameters were measured in 94 patients with CCM before they underwent expansive laminoplasty. These measurements were compared with those obtained in age- and sex-matched control group patients without myelopathy. The study patients were also subdivided into two groups: those with spinal compressive lesions above or below the C3–4 disc level were compared in terms of respiratory function.
The vital capacity values measured in patients with CCM were significantly lower than those in the control group. In patients in whom spinal cord compression was present above C3–4, vital capacity values were lower than in patients in whom the compression level was below C3–4. The resting respiratory rate per minute was elevated in the CCM group. Peak expiratory flow rate was significantly decreased, and expiratory velocities at 50 and 25% of vital capacity were significantly increased in the CCM group.
Conclusions. The results indicated that expiratory flow may be impaired or incomplete in patients with CCM. An underlying subclinical respiratory dysfunction appears to be associated with CCM.