Segmental cervical instability does not drive the loss of cervical lordosis after laminoplasty in patients with cervical spondylotic myelopathy



      Kyphotic deformity after cervical laminoplasty (CLP) often leads to unfavorable neurological recovery due to insufficient indirect decompression of the spinal cord. Existing literature has described that segmental cervical instability is a contraindication for CLP because it is a potential risk factor for kyphotic changes after surgery; however, this has never been confirmed in any clinical studies.


      To confirm whether segmental cervical instability was an independent risk factor for postoperative kyphotic change and to examine whether segmental cervical instability led to poor neurological outcomes after CLP for cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM).


      A retrospective study


      Patients who underwent CLP for CSM between January 2013 and January 2021 with a follow-up period of ≥1 year were enrolled.


      Cervical radiographic measurements including C2–C7 lordosis (C2–7 angle), cervical sagittal vertical axis, C7 slope, flexion range of motion (fROM) and extension ROM (eROM) were assessed using neutral and flexion-extension views. Segmental cervical instability was classified into anterolisthesis (AL) of ≥2 mm displacement, retrolisthesis (RL) of ≥2 mm displacement, and translational instability (TI) of ≥3 mm translational motion. The amount of C2–7 angle loss at the follow-up period compared to the preoperative measurements was defined as cervical lordosis loss (CLL). Neurological outcomes were assessed using the recovery rate of the Japanese Orthopedic Association score (JOA-RR).


      CLL was compared among patients with and without segmental cervical instability. Further, multiple linear regression model for CLL was built for the evaluation with adjustment of the reported risks, including cervical sagittal vertical axis, C7 slope, fROM, eROM, and patient age together with AL, RL, and TI, as independent variables. The JOA-RR was also compared between patients with and without segmental cervical instability.


      A total of 138 patients (mean age, 68.7 years; 65.9% male) were included in the analysis. AL, RL, and TI were found in 12 (8.7%), 33 (23.9%), and 16 (11.6%) patients, respectively. Comparisons among the groups showed that AL led to greater CLL; however, RL and TI did not. Multiple linear regression analysis revealed that greater CLL is significantly associated with greater fROM and smaller eROM (regression coefficient [β]=0.328, 95% confidence interval: 0.178 to 0.478, p<.001; β=−0.372, 95% confidence interval: −0.591 to −0.153, p=.001, respectively). However, there were no significant statistical associations in the AL, RL, and TI. Whereas, patients with AL tended to exhibit lower JOA-RR than those without AL (37.8% vs. 52.0%, p=.108).


      Segmental cervical instability is not the definitive driver for loss of cervical lordosis after CLP in patients with CSM; thus, is not a contraindication in and of itself. However, it is necessary to consider the indications for CLP, according to individual cases of patients with AL on baseline radiograph, which is a sign of poor neurological recovery.


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