Significant reduction in the incidence of C5 palsy after cervical laminoplasty using chilled irrigation water

S Takenaka, N Hosono, Y Mukai, K Tateishi, T Fuji
Bone & Joint Journal 2016, 98-B (1): 117-24

AIMS: The aim of this study was to determine whether chilled irrigation saline decreases the incidence of clinical upper limb palsy (ULP; a reduction of one grade or more on manual muscle testing; MMT), based on the idea that ULP results from thermal damage to the nerve roots by heat generated by friction during bone drilling.

METHODS: Irrigation saline for drilling was used at room temperature (RT, 25.6°C) in open-door laminoplasty in 400 patients (RT group) and chilled to a mean temperature of 12.1°C during operations for 400 patients (low-temperature (LT) group). We assessed deltoid, biceps, and triceps brachii muscle strength by MMT. ULP occurring within two days post-operatively was categorised as early-onset palsy.

RESULTS: The incidence of ULP (4.0% vs 9.5%, p = 0.003), especially early-onset palsy (1.0% vs 5.5%, p < 0.001), was significantly lower for the LT group than for the RT group. Multivariate analysis indicated that RT irrigation saline use, concomitant foraminotomy, and opened side were significant predictors for ULP.

DISCUSSION: Using chilled irrigation saline during bone drilling significantly decreased the ULP incidence, particularly the early-onset type, and shortened the recovery period for ULP. Chilled irrigation saline can thus be recommended as a simple method for preventing ULP.

TAKE HOME MESSAGE: Chilled irrigation during laminoplasty reduces C5 palsy.

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