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Outcome of patients treated for cervical myelopathy. A prospective, multicenter study with independent clinical review.

Spine 2000 March 16
STUDY DESIGN: This Cervical Spine Research Society (CSRS) Study is a prospective, multicenter, nonrandomized investigation of patients with cervical spondylosis and disc disease. In this analysis, only patients with cervical myelopathy as the predominant syndrome were considered.

OBJECTIVES: To determine demographics, surgeon treatment practices, and outcomes in patients with symptomatic myelopathy.

SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: Current data on patient demographics and treatment practices of surgeons do not exist. There are no published prospective studies in which neurologic, functional, pain, and activities of daily living outcomes are systematically quantified.

METHODS: Patients were recruited by participating CSRS surgeons. Demographic information, patients' symptoms, and patients' functional data were compiled from patient and physician surveys completed at the time of initial examination, and outcomes were assessed from patient surveys completed after treatment. Data were compiled and statistically analyzed by a blinded third party.

RESULTS: Sixty-two (12%) of the 503 patients enrolled by 41 CSRS surgeons had myelopathy. Patients (48.4% male; mean age, 48.7 +/- 12.03 years) had a mean duration of symptoms of 29.8 months (range, 8 weeks to 180 months). Surgery was recommended for 31 (50%) of these patients. Forty-three patients (69%) returned for follow-up and completed the questionnaire adequately for analysis. Twenty (46%) of the 43 patients on whom follow-up data are available underwent surgery, and 23 (54%) received medical treatment. Surgically treated patients had a significant improvement in functional status and overall pain, with improvement also observed in neurologic symptoms. Patients treated nonsurgically had a significant worsening of their ability to perform activities of daily living, with worsening of neurologic symptoms.

CONCLUSIONS: When medical and surgical treatments are compared, surgically treated patients appear to have better outcomes, despite exhibiting a greater number of neurologic and nonneurologic symptoms and having greater functional disability before treatment. Randomized studies, if feasible, should be performed to address outcome in cervical myelopathy further.

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