Diagnosis and treatment of hidden lesions in “mild” cervical spondylotic myelopathy patients with apparent symptoms

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Abstract

Patients with apparent symptoms of cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) may only show a mild compressive lesion in ordinary magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The aim of this study was to investigate the characteristics of CSM patients with “hidden” lesions on kinetic MRI and to determine an effective treatment.

Thirty-one patients with obvious spinal cord compression only on kinetic MRI were included in our study. A variety of parameters were calculated from MRI of the cervical spine at different postures. The anterior cervical decompression and fusion (ACDF) procedure were used for treatment of CSM. To evaluate the effect of surgery, a further 31 age- and gender-matched ordinary CSM patients that received ACDF procedures were enrolled as the control group.

The diameter of the cervical cord at the narrowest level in extension was significantly lower than that in the neutral posture (P < .01). The percentage of spinal cord compression was 34.6%. The diameter of the cervical canal at the narrowest level in the extension posture was significantly lower than that in the neutral posture (P < .01). The percentage of cervical canal stenosis was 43.6%. The anteroposterior diameter of the cervical canal in the case group was significantly lower than that in the control group (P < .01). However, the recovery rate of the Japanese Orthopaedic Association score at final follow-up was comparable between the case group and the control group (P = .53).

Kinetic MRI is useful for the diagnosis of CSM with hidden lesions. ACDF is an effective procedure for treatment of CSM.

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