Eddie de Dios, Robert F. Heary, Lars Lindhagen, Anna MacDowall

February 2022, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 334 - 345 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-021-07067-w

First Online: 01 December 2021

Laminectomy alone versus laminectomy with fusion for degenerative cervical myelopathy: a long-term study of a national cohort


To compare patient-reported 5-year clinical outcomes between laminectomy alone versus laminectomy with instrumented fusion in patients with degenerative cervical myelopathy in a population-based cohort.


All patients in the national Swedish Spine Register (Swespine) from January 2006 until March 2019, with degenerative cervical myelopathy, were assessed. Multiple imputation and propensity score matching based on clinicodemographic and radiographic parameters were used to compare patients treated with laminectomy alone with patients treated with laminectomy plus posterior-lateral instrumented fusion. The primary outcome measure was the European Myelopathy Score, a validated patient-reported outcome measure. The scale ranges from 5 to 18, with lower scores reflecting more severe myelopathy.


Among 967 eligible patients, 717 (74%) patients were included. Laminectomy alone was performed on 412 patients (mean age 68 years; 149 women [36%]), whereas instrumented fusion was added for 305 patients (mean age 68 years; 119 women [39%]). After imputation, the propensity for smoking, worse myelopathy scores, spondylolisthesis, and kyphosis was slightly higher in the fusion group. After imputation and propensity score matching, there were on average 212 pairs patients with a 5-year follow-up in each group. There were no important differences in patient-reported clinical outcomes between the methods after 5 years. Due to longer hospitalization times and implant-related costs, the mean cost increase per instrumented patient was approximately $4700 US.


Instrumented fusions generated higher costs and were not associated with superior long-term clinical outcomes. These findings are based on a national cohort and can thus be regarded as generalizable.

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