Prolonged Preoperative Weakness Affects Recovery of Motor Function After Anterior Cervical Diskectomy and Fusion

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Introduction:Some patients who undergo anterior cervical diskectomy and fusion for radiculopathy or myelopathy demonstrate preoperative weakness. The purpose of this study was to determine which factors predict motor recovery in patients undergoing anterior cervical diskectomy and fusion.Methods:A retrospective review of our institutional database identified patients undergoing anterior cervical diskectomy and fusion between 2010 and 2013 with 2 years of clinical follow-up. Patients with substantial weakness, defined as preoperative grade ≤3 (on a scale from 0 to 5) in one or more upper extremity muscle groups, were identified. Regression analysis was used to determine risk factors associated with persistent postoperative weakness.Results:Of the 1,001 patients who were included, 54 (5.4%) demonstrated substantial weakness. By 2 years postoperatively, 47 of 54 patients (87%) demonstrated motor recovery. The duration of preoperative weakness was an independent predictor of recovery (median, 4 months of preoperative weakness among patients with recovery versus 10 months in patients with persistent weakness; P = 0.012).Discussion:Duration of preoperative motor weakness is an independent predictor of motor recovery after anterior cervical diskectomy and fusion in patients with substantial motor weakness.Conclusion:Patients being considered for anterior cervical diskectomy and fusion who have substantial preoperative motor deficits may benefit from earlier surgical intervention.

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