OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the long-term efficacy of cervical laminectomy with posterior lateral mass fusion/fixation in the treatment of patients with cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM).
METHOD: Twenty-five patients treated for CSM by laminectomy and lateral mass fusion at the Division of Neurosurgery at The Ohio State University between 1989 and 1994 were studied retrospectively. Only patients with longer than 2-year postoperative follow-up durations were included. At follow-up examination, each patient completed an SF36 questionnaire, underwent a physical examination, underwent plain radiography showing the spinal curvature with plate and screw position, and underwent magnetic resonance imaging of the cervical spine, which evaluated dural sac decompression and spinal cord abnormalities. Patient-generated data were used for outcome measurements.
RESULTS: The mean follow-up duration was 47.5 months. Good outcome was defined by the presence of three criteria: ability to walk unassisted (Grade IIIA or better), ability to write unassisted, and ability to manage buttons and/or zippers unassisted. The inability to meet these criteria was defined as a poor outcome. Two patients (8%) experienced complications that resulted from the surgery. There was no instability or progression to significant kyphosis. Lesions that were hyperintense on magnetic resonance images did not correlate with outcome. Eighty percent of the patients achieved good outcomes, and 76% had improved myelopathy scores. None of the patients had late neurological deterioration. Patients with better neurological statuses at the time of surgery (Grade IIIA or better) were more likely to improve (P < 0.0001); the likelihood of a change in status for those starting with poorer grades (IIIB or worse) was not statistically significant (P < 0.08).
CONCLUSION: Cervical laminectomy with posterior fusion/fixation proved useful in the treatment of patients with CSM with straight or lordotic spines and multilevel compression. This therapy addresses the dynamic and compressive forces that are important in the pathogenesis of CSM, resulting in minimal complications and possible improvement in long-term outcomes.