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)
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).
Patients may initially experience minimal symptoms 4) 5) but subsequently often develop pain, sensory deficits especially affecting their hands and feet, spasticity, imbalance, bladder symptoms, and experience frequent falls 6).
Diagnosing DCSM has traditionally relied on presence of clinical symptoms, including clumsy hands, paralysis of the lower extremities, gait disturbances, urinary/bowel incontinence and severe neurological dysfunction disturbances, urinary/bowel incontinence, and severe neurological dysfunction 7) 8).
Only a small percentage of people with spondylosis go on to develop symptoms consistent with cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM), which can cause significant and disabling neurological deficits, leading to loss of function, morbidity, and mortality.
In addition, diabetes mellitus (DM) is a frequent comorbidity for people of this age and may impact the severity of CCM.
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 10).