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Predictive value of intraoperative contrast-enhanced ultrasound in functional recovery of non-traumatic cervical spinal cord injury.

European Radiology 2023 September 15
OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the ability of intraoperative CEUS to predict neurological recovery in patients with degenerative cervical myelopathy (DCM).

METHODS: Twenty-six patients with DCM who underwent laminoplasty and intraoperative ultrasound (IOUS) were included in this prospective study. The modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association (mJOA) scores and MRI were assessed before surgery and 12 months postoperatively. The anteroposterior diameter (APD), maximum spinal cord compression (MSCC), and area of signal changes in the cord at the compressed and normal levels were measured and compared using MRI and IOUS. Conventional blood flow and CEUS indices (time to peak, ascending slope, peak intensity (PI), and area under the curve (AUC)) at different levels during IOUS were calculated and analysed. Correlations between all indicators and the neurological recovery rate were evaluated.

RESULTS: All patients underwent IOUS and intraoperative CEUS, and the total recovery rate was 50.7 ± 33.3%. APD and MSCC improved significantly (p < 0.01). The recovery rate of the hyperechoic lesion group was significantly worse than that of the isoechoic group (p = 0.016). 22 patients were analysed by contrast analysis software. PI was higher in the compressed zone than in the normal zone (24.58 ± 3.19 versus 22.43 ± 2.39, p = 0.019). ΔPI compress-normal and ΔAUC compress-normal of the hyperechoic lesion group were significantly higher than those of the isoechoic group (median 2.19 versus 0.55, p = 0.017; 135.7 versus 21.54, p = 0.014, respectively), and both indices were moderately negatively correlated with the recovery rate (r =  - 0.463, p = 0.030; r =  - 0.466, p = 0.029).

CONCLUSIONS: Signal changes and microvascular perfusion evaluated using CEUS during surgery are valuable predictors of cervical myelopathy prognosis.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE STATEMENT: In the spinal cord compression area of degenerative cervical myelopathy, especially in the hyperechoic lesions, intraoperative CEUS showed more significant contrast agent perfusion than in the normal area, and the degree was negatively correlated with the neurological prognosis.

KEY POINTS: • Recovery rates in patients with hyperechoic findings were lower than those of patients without lesions detected during intraoperative ultrasound. • The peak intensity of CEUS was higher in compressed zones than in the normal parts of the spinal cord. • Quantitative CEUS comparisons of the peak intensity and area under the curve at the compressed and normal levels of the spinal cord revealed differences that were inversely correlated to the recovery rate.

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