STUDY DESIGN This was a retrospective cohort study.
OBJECTIVE The objective of this study was to characterize the long-term clinical and radiographic results of articular segmental decompression surgery using endoscopy [cervical microendoscopic laminotomy (CMEL)] for cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) and to compare outcomes to conventional expansive laminoplasty (ELAP).
SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA The spinal cord compression in CSM consists of a pincer mechanism due to bulging disk and a hypertrophied ligamentum flavum. The long-term clinical benefits of segmental decompression surgery, which removes the dorsal compressive elements of articular segment in CSM patients, have not yet been elucidated.
MATERIALS AND METHODS Consecutive patients with CSM who required surgical treatment were enrolled. All enrolled patients (n=81) underwent CMEL or ELAP. All patients were followed postoperatively for>5 years. The preoperative and 5-year follow-up evaluation included neurological assessment [Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) score], JOA recovery rates, axial neck pain (visual analog scale), and cervical sagittal alignment (C2-C7 subaxial cervical angle).
RESULTS Sixty-four patients (CMEL group: 33, ELAP group: 31) were included for analysis. The preoperative JOA score was 10.1 points in the CMEL group and 11.1 points in the ELAP group (P=0.15). The JOA recovery rates were similar, 58.6% in the CMEL group and 55.2% in the ELAP group (P=0.55). The axial neck pain in the CMEL group was significantly lower than that in the ELAP group (P<0.01). At 5-year follow-up, cervical alignment was more favorable in the CMEL group, with an average 2.9 degrees gain in lordosis [vs. 2.3 degrees loss of lordosis in the ELAP group (P<0.05)] and lower incidence of postoperative kyphosis.
CONCLUSIONS CMEL is a novel, less invasive, technique that allows for multilevel posterior cervical decompression for treatment of CSM. Our 5-year follow-up data demonstrates that patients after CMEL have similar neurological outcomes to conventional laminoplasty, with significantly less postoperative axial pain and improved subaxial cervical lordosis when compared with their traditional laminoplasty counterparts.