Degenerative cervical myelopathy


Neurosurgery Service, Alicante University General Hospital, Alicante Institute for Health and Biomedical Research (ISABIAL - FISABIO Foundation), Alicante, Spain.

The assessment, diagnosis, operative and nonoperative management of degenerative cervical myelopathy (DCM) have evolved rapidly over the last 20 years. A clearer understanding of the pathobiology of DCM has led to attempts to develop objective measurements of the severity of myelopathy, including technology such as multiparametric magnetic resonance imaging, biomarkers, and ancillary clinical testing. New pharmacological treatments have the potential to alter the course of surgical outcomes, and greater innovation in surgical techniques have made surgery safer, more effective and less invasive. Future developments for the treatment of DCM will seek to improve the diagnostic accuracy of imaging, improve the objectivity of clinical assessment, and increase the use of surgical techniques to ensure the best outcome is achieved for each individual patient 1).

Goel was troubled by the fact that his several PubMed and MEDLINE indexed articles on the subject published in leading journals dedicated to the study of the spine have not found any place in the huge reference list of 137 articles 2)

Degenerative cervical myelopathy definition.

Degenerative cervical myelopathy epidemiology.

Degenerative cervical myelopathy etiology.

A review of Tetreault et al. summarizes current knowledge of the pathophysiology of DCM and describes the cascade of events that occur after compression of the spinal cord, including ischemia, destruction of the blood-spinal cord barrier, demyelination, and neuronal apoptosis. Important features of the diagnosis of DCM are discussed in detail, and relevant clinical and imaging findings are highlighted. Furthermore, this review outlines valuable assessment tools for evaluating functional status and quality of life in these patients and summarizes the advantages and disadvantages of each. Other topics of this review include epidemiology, the prevalence of degenerative changes in the asymptomatic population, the natural history and rates of progression, risk factors of diagnosis (clinical, imaging and genetic), and management strategies 3).

Degenerative cervical myelopathy clinical features

European myelopathy score.

As a widespread used scale, the Modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association scale (mJOA) should be translated and culturally adapted 4).

see Cervical spine stenosis scales

Degenerative cervical myelopathy diagnosis.

Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy Differential Diagnosis.

Degenerative cervical myelopathy treatment

see Degenerative cervical myelopathy outcome.

A systematic review of MEDLINE and Embase for “Cervical” AND “Myelopathy” was conducted following PRISMA guidelines. Full-text papers in English, exclusively studying DCM, published between January 1, 1995 and August 08, 2020 were considered eligible. Extracted data for each study included authors, journal, year of publication, location, sample size and study design. Each study was then analysed for alignment to the established research priorities.

Results: In total, 2261 papers with a total of 1,323,979 patients were included. Japan published more papers (625) than any other country. Moreover, 2005 (89%) of 2261 papers were aligned to at least one research priority. The alignment of papers to the different research priorities was unequal, with 1060 papers on the most researched priority alone (#15, predictors of outcome after treatment), but only 64 total papers on the least-researched 10 priorities. The comparative growth of research in the different priorities was also unequal, with some priorities growing and others plateauing over the past 5 years.

Discussion: Research activity in DCM continues to grow, and the focus of this research remains on surgery. The established research priorities therefore represent a new direction for the field 5)

A National Institutes of Health-funded (1R13AR065834-01) investigator meeting was held before the initiation of the trial to bring multiple stakeholders together to finalize the study protocol. Study investigators, coordinators, and major stakeholders were able to attend and discuss strengths of, limitations of, and concerns about the study. The final protocol was approved for funding by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (CE-1304-6173). The trial began enrollment on April 1, 2014 6).

see Degenerative cervical myelopathy case series.

A 63-year-old male who complained of a four-week-long “tingling and numbness” in his right upper and lower extremities. The sensation worsened over the next couple of days to the point where it affected his gait and led to a subsequent visit to the emergency room. Initial presentation prompted a stroke workup, but further investigation revealed findings suggestive of CSM. This case report highlights the symptomology of cervical spondylotic myelopathy in adults greater than 50 years of age and emphasizes the importance of recognizing the essential markers of this condition 7).

Wilson JRF, Badhiwala JH, Moghaddamjou A, Martin AR, Fehlings MG. Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy; A Review of the Latest Advances and Future Directions in Management. Neurospine. 2019 Sep;16(3):494-505. doi: 10.14245/ns.1938314.157. Epub 2019 Aug 26. PubMed PMID: 31476852; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6790745.
Goel A. Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy. Neurospine. 2019 Dec;16(4):793-795. doi: 10.14245/ns.1938384.192. Epub 2019 Dec 31. PubMed PMID: 31905465.
Tetreault L, Goldstein CL, Arnold P, Harrop J, Hilibrand A, Nouri A, Fehlings MG. Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy: A Spectrum of Related Disorders Affecting the Aging Spine. Neurosurgery. 2015 Oct;77 Suppl 4:S51-67. doi: 10.1227/NEU.0000000000000951. PubMed PMID: 26378358.
Augusto MT, Diniz JM, Rolemberg Dantas FL, Fernandes de Oliveira M, Rotta JM, Botelho RV. Development of the Portuguese version of the modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association Score: cross-cultural adaptation, reliability, validity and responsiveness. World Neurosurg. 2018 Jun 1. pii: S1878-8750(18)31127-6. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2018.05.173. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 29864576.
Grodzinski B, Bestwick H, Bhatti F, Durham R, Khan M, Partha Sarathi CI, Teh JQ, Mowforth O, Davies B. Research activity amongst DCM research priorities. Acta Neurochir (Wien). 2021 Feb 24. doi: 10.1007/s00701-021-04767-6. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33625603.
Ghogawala Z, Benzel EC, Heary RF, Riew KD, Albert TJ, Butler WE, Barker FG 2nd, Heller JG, McCormick PC, Whitmore RG, Freund KM, Schwartz JS. Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy Surgical Trial: Randomized, Controlled Trial Design and Rationale. Neurosurgery. 2014 Oct;75(4):334-346. PubMed PMID: 24991714.
Madedor OJ, Lee S, Levey R. Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy Presenting as Ischemic Stroke: A Case Report. Cureus. 2019 Mar 21;11(3):e4291. doi: 10.7759/cureus.4291. PMID: 31183272; PMCID: PMC6538236.
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