Spyridon K. Karadimas, Georgios Gatzounis, Michael G. Fehlings

April 2015, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 132 - 138 Review article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-014-3264-4

First Online: 14 March 2014

In this narrative review, we aim to outline what is currently known about the pathophysiology of cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM), the most common cause of spinal cord dysfunction. In particular, we note the unique factors that distinguish it from acute spinal cord injury. Despite its common occurrence, the reasons why some patients develop severe symptomatology while others have few or no symptoms despite radiographic evidence confirming similar degrees of compression is poorly understood. Neither is there a clear understanding of why certain patients have a stable clinical myelopathy and others present with only mild myelopathy. Moreover, the precise molecular mechanisms which contribute to the pathogenesis of the disease are incompletely understood. The current treatment method is decompression of the spinal cord but a lack of clinically relevant models of CSM have hindered the understanding of the full pathophysiology which would aid the development of new therapeutic avenues of investigation. Further elucidation of the role of ischemia, currently a source of debate, as well as the complex cascade of biomolecular events as a result of the unique pathophysiology in this disease will pave the way for further neuroprotective strategies to be developed to attenuate the physiological consequences of surgical decompression and augment its benefits.

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