Incidence and Factors Predictive of Dysphagia and Dysphonia After Anterior Operation With Multilevel Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy

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Study Design:

Retrospective database analysis.

Objective of the Study:

The objective of the study was to quantify the incidence of dysphagia and dysphonia and assess the associated risk factors after multilevel cervical anterior operation.

Summary of Background Data:

Anterior approach for multilevel cervical spondylotic myelopathy has been developed and obtained favorable outcomes. As number of fused levels increased, the operation difficulty, invasiveness and operative risks are higher. Meanwhile, the 2 most common postoperative complications described in the literature are dysphonia and dysphagia.

Materials and Methods:

Two hundred thirty-six multilevel cervical spondylotic myelopathy patients between October 2004 and June 2012 were included in the study. All patients undergoing anterior operation, and incidences of dysphagia were identified. Risk factors were assessed using logistic regression.


At a minimum of 1 year after operation, 70.6% (n=156) were 3-level anterior operation and 29.4% (n=65) were 4-level anterior operation. The overall dysphagia rate was 23.1% (51 patients). The overall dysphonia rate was 28.5% (63 patients). Logistic regression analysis demonstrated that risk factors for dysphagia included age, operation time and lack of tracheal traction exercise. Age, operation time were 2 factors significantly related to dysphonia.


The incidence of postoperative dysphagia and dysphonia is relative higher after multilevel anterior operation. Age and operation time carry a greater risk of postoperative dysphagia and dysphonia. Tracheal traction exercise might help patients reduce postoperative dysphagia. Sufficient preoperative preparation and evaluation combining with proficient and precise operation technique are suggested when multilevel anterior fusion is performed.

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