Mihir R. Bapat, Kshitij Chaudhary, Amit Sharma, Vinod Laheri

November 2008, Volume 17, Issue 12, pp 1651 - 1663 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-008-0792-9

First Online: 23 October 2008

This is a prospective analysis of 129 patients operated for cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM). Paucity of prospective data on surgical management of CSM, especially multilevel CSM (MCM), makes surgical decision making difficult. The objectives of the study were (1) to identify radiological patterns of cord compression (POC), and (2) to propose a surgical protocol based on POC and determine its efficacy. Average follow-up period was 2.8 years. Following POCs were identified: POC I: one or two levels of anterior cord compression. POC II: one or two levels of anterior and posterior compression. POC III: three levels of anterior compression. POC III variant: similar to POC III, associated with significant medical morbidity. POC IV: three or more levels of anterior compression in a developmentally narrow canal or with multiple posterior compressions. POC IV variant: similar to POC IV with one or two levels, being more significant than the others. POC V: three or more levels of compression in a kyphotic spine. Anterior decompression and reconstruction was chosen for POC I, II and III. Posterior decompression was chosen in POC III variant because they had more incidences of preoperative morbidity, in spite of being radiologically similar to POC III. Posterior surgery was also performed for POC IV and IV variant. For POC IV variant a targeted anterior decompression was considered after posterior decompression. The difference in the mJOA score before and after surgery for patients in each POC group was statistically significant. Anterior surgery in MCM had better result (mJOA = 15.9) versus posterior surgery (mJOA = 14.96), the difference being statistically significant. No major graft-related complications occurred in multilevel groups. The better surgical outcome of anterior surgery in MCM may make a significant difference in surgical outcome in younger and fitter patients like those of POC III whose expectations out of surgery are more. Judicious choice of anterior or posterior approach should be made after individualizing each case.

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