Degenerative cervical myelopathy (DCM), including cervical spondylotic myelopathy and ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament, presents a heterogenous set of variables reflecting its complex nature. Multiple studies in the past have attempted to elucidate an ideal surgical algorithm that surgeons may use when treating these patients, unfortunately all studies to date, including the rigorous systematic review used in this focus issue, have fallen short in identifying a superior approach when addressing DCM. Likely because of a superior approach being nonexistent because there are multiple pathoanatomical considerations. In addition to the multitude of variables that spine surgeons face when deciding the treatment options for patients with DCM, the previous studies that have been published, unfortunately, lack in consistent outcome and complication reporting. Therefore, synthesizing a treatment algorithm remains difficult, however, the articles in this focus issue use the GRADE system to assess the overall quality (strength) of available evidence and, where appropriate, formulate evidence-based recommendations. Factors that should be included in surgical decision making are the sagittal alignment, anatomical location of the compressive pathology, number of levels of compression, presence of absence or instability or subluxation, the type compressive pathology (e.g., spondylosis vs. ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament), neck anatomy, bone quality, and surgeon experience or preference. Fortunately, as reviewed in the accompanying articles, a number of excellent surgical options exist that can be selected on the basis of the aforementioned pathoanatomical considerations.
*Department of Orthopaedics, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
†Toronto Western Hospital, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
‡Department of Neurosurgery, Rush University, Chicago, IL
§Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
¶Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington, Seattle, WA; and
‖Division of Neurosurgery, Department of Surgery, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Brandon D. Lawrence, MD, Department of Orthopaedics, University of Utah, 590 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, UT 84108, E-mail: Brandon.firstname.lastname@example.org
Acknowledgment date: June 4, 2013. First revision date: July 25, 2013. Acceptance date: July 31, 2013.
The manuscript submitted does not contain information about medical device(s)/drug(s).
Supported by AOSpine North America, Inc. Analytic support for this work was provided by Spectrum Research, Inc., with funding from the AOSpine North America.
Relevant financial activities outside the submitted work: grant, consulting fee or honorarium, support for travel, board membership, consultancy, grants/grants pending, payment for lectures, patents, royalties, payment for development of educational presentations, and stock/stock options.