Posterior Surgical Treatment of Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy

HSS Journal Volume 11, Number 1 February, 2015

Paul D. Kiely, MD

Spine & Scoliosis Service, Hospital for Special Surgery

John C. Quinn, MD

Spine & Scoliosis Service, Hospital for Special Surgery

Jerry Y. Du, BS

Spine & 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


Cervical spondylosis is now recognized as the leading cause of myelopathy and spinal cord dysfunction worldwide. Chronic spinal cord compression results in chronic inflammation, cellular apoptosis, and microvacular insufficiency, which are thought to the biologic basis for cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM).

Our purpose was to address the key principles of CSM, including natural history and presentation, pathogenesis, optimal surgical approach, results and complication rates of posterior surgical approaches for CSM so that the rationale for addressing CSM by a posterior approach can be fully understood.

Patients and Methods
We conducted a systematic search of PubMed/MEDLINE and the Cochrane Collaboration Library for literature published through February 2014 to identify articles that evaluated CSM and its management. Reasons for exclusion included patients with ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL), patients with degenerative disc disease without CSM, and patients with spine tumor, trauma and infection. Meeting abstracts/proceedings, white articles and editorials were additionally excluded.

The search strategy yielded 1,292 articles, which was reduced to 52 articles, after our exclusion criteria were introduced. CSM is considered to be a surgical disorder due to its progressive nature. There is currently no consensus in the literature whether multilevel spondylotic compression is best treated via an anterior or posterior surgical approach.

Multilevel CSM may be safely and effectively treated using a posterior approach, either by laminoplasty or with a laminectomy and fusion technique.

This article appears in the HSS Journal: Volume 11, Issue 1.
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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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