Arthroplasty for cervical spondylotic myelopathy: similar results to patients with only radiculopathy at 3 years' follow-up

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Object

Cervical arthroplasty has been accepted as a viable option for surgical management of cervical spondylosis or degenerative disc disease (DDD). The best candidates for cervical arthroplasty are young patients who have radiculopathy caused by herniated disc with competent facet joints. However, it remains uncertain whether arthroplasty is equally effective for patients who have cervical myelopathy caused by DDD. The aim of this study was to compare the outcomes of arthroplasty for patients with cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) and patients with radiculopathy without CSM.

Methods

A total of 151 consecutive cases involving patients with CSM or radiculopathy caused by DDD and who underwent one- or two-level cervical arthroplasty were included in this study. Clinical outcome evaluations and radiographic studies were reviewed. Clinical outcome measurements included the Visual Analog Scale (VAS) of neck and arm pain, Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) scores, and the Neck Disability Index (NDI) in every patient. For patients with CSM, Nurick scores were recorded for evaluation of cervical myelopathy. Radiographic studies included lateral dynamic radiographs and CT for detection of the formation of heterotopic ossification .

Results

Of the 151 consecutive patients with cervical DDD, 125 (82.8%; 72 patients in the myelopathy group and 53 in the radiculopathy group) had at least 24 months of clinical and radiographic follow-up. The mean duration of follow-up in these patients was 36.4 months (range 24–56 months). There was no difference in sex distribution between the 2 groups. However, the mean age of the patients in the myelopathy group was approximately 6 years greater than that of the radiculopathy group (53.1 vs 47.2 years, p < 0.001). The mean operation time, mean estimated blood loss, and the percentage of patients prescribed perioperative analgesic agents were similar in both groups (p = 0.754, 0.652, and 0.113, respectively). There were significant improvements in VAS neck and arm pain, JOA scores, and NDI in both groups. Nurick scores in the myelopathy group also improved significantly after surgery. In radiographic evaluations, 92.5% of patients in the radiculopathy group and 95.8% of those in the radiculopathy group retained spinal motion (no significant difference). Evaluation of CT scans showed heterotopic ossification in 34 patients (47.2%) in the myelopathy group and 25 patients (47.1%) in the radiculopathy group (p = 0.995). At a mean of over 3 years postoperatively, no secondary surgery was reported in either group.

Conclusions

The severity of myelopathy improves after cervical arthroplasty in patients with CSM caused by DDD. At 3-year follow-up, the clinical and radiographic outcomes of cervical arthroplasty in DDD patients with CSM are similar to those patients who have only cervical radiculopathy. Therefore, cervical arthroplasty is a viable option for patients with CSM caused by DDD who require anterior surgery. However, comparison with the standard surgical treatment of anterior cervical discectomy and fusion is necessary to corroborate the outcomes of arthroplasty for CSM.

Abbreviations used in this paper:ACDF = anterior cervical discectomy and fusion; CSM = cervical spondylotic myelopathy; DDD = degenerative disc disease; FDA = Food and Drug Administration; IDE = investigational device exemption; JOA = Japanese Orthopaedic Association; NDI = Neck Disability Index; OPLL = ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament; VAS = visual analog scale.
Article Information

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to: Jau-Ching Wu, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Neurosurgery, Neurological Institute, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Rm. 508, 17F, No. 201, Shih-Pai Rd., Sec. 2, Beitou, Taipei 11217, Taiwan. email: jauching@gmail.com.

Drs. Fay and Huang contributed equally to this work.

Current affiliations for Dr. Tsai: Department of Ophthalmology, National Taiwan University Hospital, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University; and Department of Ophthalmology, Far Eastern Memorial Hospital, New Taipei City, Taiwan.Current affiliations for Dr. Tu: Department of Neurosurgery, Neurological Institute, Taipei Veterans General Hospital; School of Medicine, National Yang-Ming University; and Molecular Medicine Program, Taiwan International Graduate Program, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan.Please include this information when citing this paper: published online June 13, 2014; DOI: 10.3171/2014.3.SPINE13387.
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