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Cervical Myelopathy Caused by C3–C4 Spondylosis in Elderly Patients: A Radiographic Analysis of Pathogenesis

Mihara, Hisanori, MD; Ohnari, Katsuhiro, MD; Hachiya, Masashi, MD; Kondo, Soichi, MD; Yamada, Katsuhisa, MD

Cervical Spine

Study Design. A radiographic analysis of elderly patients with cervical spondylotic myelopathy, particularly those with involvement of the C3–C4 level.

Objectives. To elucidate the potential contributors to the higher incidence of pathology at C3–C4 in the elderly.

Summary of Background Data. In this study, the elder patients showed a greater predilection for involvement of the C3–C4 lesion compared with their younger counterparts. No previous study has addressed C3–C4 pathology in elderly patients.

Methods. This study included 18 patients, 10 men and 8 women, with cervical spondylotic myelopathy caused by C3–C4 disorders (group I). For the purpose of comparison, 18 younger patients (less than 50 years of age) with myelopathy (group II) and 30 volunteers over the age of 65 (group III) were also investigated. Mean age at admission was 73.5 years for group I, 42.4 years for group II, and 73.4 years for group III. Radiographic analysis, using static and dynamic radiographs, was performed to evaluate the morphologic features.

Results. The mean spinal canal diameter for groups I and II was significantly smaller than that for group III. Group I exhibited greater C2–C7 lordosis. The aged population, group I and group III, showed greater C3–C4 angulation associated with C4 forward inclination in neutral standing position as compared with younger patients. Regarding dynamic factors, group I showed the largest segmental motion at C3–C4, and, conversely, the smallest mobility at the lower segments, with significant differences.

Conclusions. Using radiographic analysis, morphologic features that predispose patients to disorders of the C3–C4 motion segment were evaluated. These features included 1) greater C3–C4 angulation associated with age-related postural change and 2) hypermobility at the C3–C4 segment compensating for decreased mobility at the lower segments.

From the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Yokohama Minami Kyosai Hospital, Yokohama, Japan.

Acknowledgment date: March 12, 1999.

Acceptance date: May 27, 1999.

Address reprint requests to

Hisanori Mihara, MD

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

Yokohama Minami Kyosai Hospital

500 Mutsuura, Kanazawa

Yokohama 235



Devise status category: 1.

Conflict of interest category: 14.

© 2000 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.