Considerations for Prophylactic Surgery in Asymptomatic Severe Cervical Stenosis

HSS Journal Online First Article

Abdel Majid Sheikh Taha, MD

Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Spine and Scoliosis Service, Hospital for Special Surgery

Jennifer Shue, MS

Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Spine and Scoliosis Service, Hospital for Special Surgery

Darren R. Lebl, MD, FAAOS
Darren R. Lebl, MD, FAAOS
Assistant Attending Orthopaedic Surgeon, Hospital for Special Surgery
Assistant Scientist, Research Division, Hospital for Special Surgery
Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Weill Medical College of Cornell University
Federico P. Girardi, MD
Federico P. Girardi, MD

Attending Orthopaedic Surgeon, Hospital for Special Surgery
Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Weill Cornell Medical College
Associate Scientist, Research Division, Hospital for Special Surgery

Abstract

Background
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.

Questions/Purposes
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?

Methods
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.

Results
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.

Conclusions
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.

This article appears in HSS Journal: Volume 11, Issue 1.
View the full HSS Journal article at springerlink.com.

About the HSS Journal

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.

 

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