Retrospective review of prospectively-collected registry data.
To compare the patient-reported outcomes, satisfaction, and return to work among a large cohort of patients stratified by preoperative myelopathy severity undergoing Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF) for Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy.
Summary of Background Data.
Recent clinical practice guidelines noted a lack of studies stratifying their sample based on preoperative disease severity. The benefits of early surgical intervention for patients with mild myelopathy remain uncertain.
A prospectively-maintained registry was retrospectively reviewed for all patients who underwent primary ACDF for Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy. Patients were stratified based on severity of preoperative myelopathy symptoms according to the Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) scale: mild (>13), moderate (9–13), or severe (<9). Patients were prospectively followed for at least 2 years.
In total, 219 patients were included: 74 mild, 94 moderate, and 51 severe cases. The mild group had significantly better Neurogenic Symptoms (NS), Neck Disability Index (NDI), SF-36 Physical (PCS), and Mental Component Summary at baseline (P < 0.05). Neck and arm pain scores were similar at all time points. At 2 years, the severe group still had significantly worse patient-reported outcomes and lower rates of satisfaction, expectation fulfilment and return to work. However, they had significantly greater improvement in JOA, Neurogenic Symptoms, NDI, PCS, and Mental Component Summary, and a larger proportion attained minimal clinically important difference (MCID) for NDI and PCS. All three groups had similar proportions attaining MCID for JOA.
Patients with severe myelopathy experienced a greater improvement after ACDF. Although fewer patients attained MCID, early surgical intervention for patients with mild myelopathy should also be considered, as this may allow patients to maintain their higher functional status. They also had high rates of postoperative satisfaction and return to work. The clinical trajectory outlined in this study may provide valuable prognostic information for patients.
Level of Evidence: 3