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Subtotal Corpectomy Versus Laminoplasty For Multilevel Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy: A Long-Term Follow-Up Study Over 10 Years

Wada, Eiji, MD; Suzuki, Shozo, MD, PhD; Kanazawa, Atsunori, MD; Matsuoka, Takashi, MD; Miyamoto, Shimpei, MD, PhD; Yonenobu, Kazuo, MD, PhD

Cervical Spine

Study Design.  A retrospective study was conducted.

Objective. To compare the long-term outcomes of subtotal corpectomy and laminoplasty for multilevel cervical spondylotic myelopathy.

Summary of Background Data.  No study has compared the long-term outcomes between subtotal corpectomy and laminoplasty for multilevel cervical spondylotic myelopathy.

Methods. In this study, 23 patients treated with subtotal corpectomy and 24 patients treated with laminoplasty were followed up for 10 to 14 years after surgery. Neurologic recovery, late deterioration, axial pain, radiographic results (degenerative changes at adjacent levels, alignment, and range of motion of the cervical spine), and surgical complications were compared between the two groups.

Results. No significant difference in neurologic recovery was found between the two groups 1 and 5 years after surgery, or at the latest follow-up assessment. Neurologic status deteriorated in one patient of the subtotal corpectomy group because of adjacent degeneration, and in one patient of the laminoplasty group because of hyperextension injury. Axial pain was observed in 15% of the corpectomy group and in 40% of the laminoplasty group (P < 0.05). In the corpectomy group, listhesis exceeding 2 mm developed at 38% of the upper adjacent levels, and osteophyte formation at 54% of the lower adjacent levels. In the laminoplasty group, kyphotic deformity developed in one patient (6%) after surgery. In the corpectomy group, the mean vertebral range of motion had decreased from 39.4° to 19.2° (49%) by the final follow-up assessment. In the laminoplasty group, the mean vertebral range of motion had decreased from 40.2° to 11.6° (29%) by the final follow-up assessment. Neurologic complications related to the surgery occurred in two patients (one myelopathy from bone graft dislodgement and one C5 root palsy from bone graft fracture) of the corpectomy group and four patients (C5 root palsy) of the laminoplasty group. All of these patients recovered over time. The corpectomy group needed longer operative time (P < 0.001) and tended to have more blood loss (P = 0.24). Six patients in the corpectomy group needed posterior interspinous wiring because of pseudarthrosis.

Conclusions. Subtotal corpectomy and laminoplasty showed an identical effect from a surgical treatment for multilevel cervical spondylotic myelopathy. These neurologic recoveries usually last more than 10 years. In the subtotal corpectomy group, the disadvantages were longer surgical time, more blood loss, and pseudarthrosis. In the laminoplasty group, axial pain occurred frequently, and the range of motion was reduced severely.

From the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Osaka University Medical School, Osaka, Japan.

Presented at the 26th Annual Meeting of the Cervical Spine Research Society, December 16-18, 1999, Seattle, Washington.

Acknowledgment date: February 25, 2000.

First revision date: May 19, 2000.

Acceptance date: August 28, 2000.

Device status category: 1.

Conflict of interest category: 12.

Address reprint requests to

Eiji Wada, MD

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

Osaka University Medical School

2-2 Yamada-oka

Suita 565-0871


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© 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.