Cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) is a devastating pathology that can severely impair quality of life. The symptoms in CSM progress slowly and often do not manifest until they become severe and potentially irreversible. There is a consensus that surgical intervention is warranted in symptomatic patients. The recovery of the neurologic deficit after surgical decompression of the spinal cord varies, and halting the progression of the disease remains the principle aim of surgery.
The aim of this review is to address the key question of whether or not to intervene in cases that have radiographic evidence of significant cervical stenosis yet are asymptomatic or exhibit minimal symptoms?
The PubMed databases for publications that addressed asymptomatic cervical spondylotic myelopathy were reviewed. The relevant articles were selected after screening all the resulting abstracts. The references of the relevant articles were then reviewed, and cross references with titles discussing CSM were picked up for review.
The search identified 14 papers which were reviewed. Seven articles were found to be relevant to the subject in question. Going through the references of the relevant articles, three articles were found to be directly related to the topic in study.
There is paucity of evidence to support for or against surgery in the setting of asymptomatic cervical spondylotic myelopathy despite radiographic evidence of severe stenosis. Patient factors such as age, level of activity, and risk of injury should be considered in formulating a management plan. Moreover, the patient should play an integral role in the process of decision making.
HSS Journal, an academic peer-reviewed journal published three times a year, February, July and October. The Journal accepts and publishes peer reviewed articles from around the world that contribute to the advancement of the knowledge of musculoskeletal diseases and disorders.