Yoshifumi Kudo, Tomoaki Toyone, Ichiro Okano, Koji Ishikawa, Soji Tani, Akira Matsuoka, Hiroshi Maruyama, Ryo Yamamura, Chikara Hayakawa, Koki Tsuchiya, Haruka Emori, Toshiyuki Shirahata, Yushi Hoshino, Tomoyuki Ozawa, Taiki Yasukawa, Katsunori Inagaki

July 2021, pp 1 - 7 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-021-06939-5

First Online: 24 July 2021


Dropped head syndrome (DHS) is presumably caused by focal myopathy in the cervical posterior muscles; however, distinguishable radiological features of the cervical spine in DHS remain unidentified. This study investigated the radiological features of the cervical spine in dropped head syndrome.


The records of DHS patients and age- and sex-matched cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) patients were reviewed. Cervical spinal parameters (C2-7, C2-4, and C5-7 angles) were assessed on lateral cervical spine radiographs. Quantitative radiographic evaluation of cervical spine degeneration was performed using the cervical degenerative index (CDI), which consists of four elements: disk space narrowing (DSN), endplate sclerosis, osteophyte formation, and listhesis.


Forty-one DHS patients were included. Statistically significant differences were noted between the upper and lower cervical spine in the sagittal angle parameters on the neutral, flexion, and extension radiographs in DHS group, whereas no significant differences were observed in CSM group. CDI comparison showed significantly higher scores of DSN in C3/4, C4/5, C5/6, and C6/7; sclerosis in C5/6 and C6/7; and osteophyte formation in C4/5, C5/6, and C6/7 in DHS group than in CSM group. Comparison of listhesis scores revealed significant differences in the upper levels of the cervical spine (C2/3, C3/4, and C4/5) between two groups.


Our results demonstrated that the characteristic radiological features in the cervical spine of DHS include lower-level dominant severe degenerative change and upper-level dominant spondylolisthesis. These findings suggest that degenerative changes in the cervical spine may also play a role in the onset and progression of DHS.

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