Cervical traumatic spinal cord injury outcome

Cervical traumatic spinal cord injury outcome

Injury to the spine and spinal cord is one of the common cause of disability and death. Several factors affect the outcome; but which are these factors (alone and in combination), are determining the outcomes are still unknown.

Based on parameters from the International Standards, physicians are able to inform patients about the predicted long-term outcomes, including the ability to walk, with high accuracy. In those patients who cannot participate in a reliable physical neurological examination, magnetic resonance imaging and electrophysiological examinations may provide useful diagnostic and prognostic information. As clinical research on this topic continues, the prognostic value of the reviewed diagnostic assessments will become more accurate in the near future. These advances will provide useful information for physicians to counsel tSCI patients and their families during the catastrophic initial phase after the injury 1).

In cervical traumatic spinal cord injury (TSCI), the therapeutic effect of timing of surgery on neurological recovery remains uncertain. Additionally, the relationship between the extent of decompression, imaging biomarker evidence of injury severity, and the outcome are incompletely understood.

Aarabi et al., investigated the effect of timing of decompression on long-term neurological outcome in patients with complete spinal cord decompression confirmed on postoperative MRI. AIS grade conversion was determined in 72 AIS grades A, B, and C patients 6 months after confirmed decompression. Thirty-two patients underwent decompressive surgery ultra-early (<12 hours), 25 early (12-24 hours), and 15 late (>24-138.5 hours) after injury. Age, gender, injury mechanism, intramedullary lesion length (IMLL) on MRI, admission ASIA motor score, and surgical technique were not statistically different between groups. Motor complete patients (p=0.009) and those with fracture-dislocations (p=0.01) tended to be operated earlier. Improvement of one grade or more was present in 55.6% in AIS grade A, 60.9% in AIS grade B, and 86.4% in AIS grade C patients. Admission AIS motor score (p=0.0004) and pre-operative IMLL (p=0.00001) were the strongest predictors of neurological outcome. AIS grade improvement occurred in 65.6%, 60%, and 80% of patients who underwent decompression ultra-early, early, and late, respectively (p=0.424). Multiple regression analysis revealed that IMLL was the only significant variable predictive of AIS grade conversion to a better grade (odds ratio, 0.908; CI, 0.862-0.957; p<0.001).

They conclude that in patients with postoperative MRI confirmation of complete decompression following cervical TSCI, pre-operative IMLL, not the timing of surgery, determine the long-term neurological outcome 2).


Preclinical and class III clinical data suggest improved outcomes by maintaining the mean arterial pressure > 85 mm Hg and avoiding hypoxemia at least for 7 days following cervical SCI, and this level of monitoring and support should occur in the ICU 3).


100 cases of patients under 18 years at accident with acute traumatic cervical spinal cord injury admitted to spinal cord injury SCI centers participating in the European Multi-center study about SCI (EMSCI) between January 2005 and April 2016 were reviewed. According to their age at the accident, age 13 to 17, patients were selected for the adolescent group. After applying in- and exclusion criteria 32 adolescents were included. Each adolescent patient was matched with two adult SCI patients for analysis.

ASIA Impairment scale (AIS) grade, neurological, sensory, motor level, total motor score, and Spinal Cord Independence Measure (SCIM III) total score.

Mean AIS conversion, neurological, motor and sensory levels, as well as total motor score, showed no significant statistical difference in adolescents compared to the adult control group after a follow up of 6 months. Significantly higher final SCIM scores (p < 0.05) in the adolescent group compared to adults as well as a strong trend for a higher gain in SCIM score (p < 0.061) between first and last follow up was found.

Neurological outcome after traumatic cervical SCI is not superior in adolescents compared to adults in this cohort. Significantly higher SCIM scores indicate more functional gain for adolescent patients after traumatic cervical SCI. Juvenile age appears to be an independent predictor for a better functional outcome. 4).


A prospective observational study at single-center with all patients with cervical spinal cord injury (SCI), attending our hospital within a week of injury during a period of October 2011 to July 2013 was included for analysis. Demographic factors such as age, gender, etiology of injury, preoperative American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) grade, upper (C2-C4) versus lower (C5-C7) cervical level of injury, image factors on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and timing of intervention were studied. Change in neurological status by one or more ASIA grade from the date of admission to 6 months follow-up was taken as an improvement. Functional grading was assessed using the functional independence measure (FIM) scale at 6 months follow-up.

A total of 39 patients with an acute cervical spine injury, managed surgically were included in this study. Follow-up was available for 38 patients at 6 months. No improvement was noted in patients with ASIA Grade A. Maximum improvement was noted in ASIA Grade D group (83.3%). The improvement was more significant in lower cervical region injuries. Patients with cord contusion showed no improvement as opposed to those with just edema wherein; the improvement was seen in 62.5% of patients. The percentage of improvement in cord edema ≤3 segments (75%) was significantly higher than edema with >3 segments (42.9%). Maximum improvement in FIM score was noted in ASIA Grade C and patients who had edema (especially ≤3 segments) in MRI cervical spine.

Complete cervical SCI, upper-level cervical cord injury, patients showing MRI contusion, edema >3 segments group have a worst improvement in neurological status at 6 months follow-up 5).


A total of 66 patients diagnosed with traumatic cervical SCI were selected for neurological assessment (using the International standards for neurological classification of spinal cord injury [ISNCSCI]) and functional evaluation (based on the Korean version Modified Barthel Index [K-MBI] and Functional Independence Measure [FIM]) at admission and upon discharge. All of the subjects received a preliminary electrophysiological assessment, according to which they were divided into two groups as follows: those with cervical radiculopathy (the SCI/Rad group) and those without (the SCI group).

A total of 32 patients with cervical SCI (48.5%) had cervical radiculopathy. The initial ISNCSCI scores for sensory and motor, K-MBI, and total FIM did not significantly differ between the SCI group and the SCI/Rad group. However, at discharge, the ISNCSCI scores for motor, K-MBI, and FIM of the SCI/Rad group showed less improvement (5.44±8.08, 15.19±19.39 and 10.84±11.49, respectively) than those of the SCI group (10.76±9.86, 24.79±19.65 and 17.76±15.84, respectively) (p<0.05). In the SCI/Rad group, the number of involved levels of cervical radiculopathy was negatively correlated with the initial and follow-up motors score by ISNCSCI.

Cervical radiculopathy is not rare in patients with traumatic cervical SCI, and it can impede neurological and functional improvement. Therefore, detection of combined cervical radiculopathy by electrophysiological assessment is essential for the accurate prognosis of cervical SCI patients in the rehabilitation unit 6).

References

1)

van Middendorp JJ, Goss B, Urquhart S, Atresh S, Williams RP, Schuetz M. Diagnosis and prognosis of traumatic spinal cord injury. Global Spine J. 2011 Dec;1(1):1-8. doi: 10.1055/s-0031-1296049. PubMed PMID: 24353930; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3864437.
2)

Aarabi B, Akhtar-Danesh N, Chryssikos T, Shanmuganathan K, Schwartzbauer G, Simard MJ, Olexa J, Sansur C, Crandall K, Mushlin H, Kole M, Le E, Wessell A, Pratt N, Cannarsa G, Diaz Lomangino C, Scarboro M, Aresco C, Oliver J, Caffes N, Carbine S, Kanami M. Efficacy of Ultra-Early (<12 hours), Early (12-24 hours), and Late (>24-138.5 hours) Surgery with MRI-Confirmed Decompression in AIS grades A, B, and C Cervical Spinal Cord Injury. J Neurotrauma. 2019 Jul 16. doi: 10.1089/neu.2019.6606. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 31310155.
3)

Schwartzbauer G, Stein D. Critical Care of Traumatic Cervical Spinal Cord Injuries: Preventing Secondary Injury. Semin Neurol. 2016 Dec;36(6):577-585. Epub 2016 Dec 1. Review. PubMed PMID: 27907962.
4)

Geuther M, Grassner L, Mach O, Klein B, Högel F, Voth M, Bühren V, Maier D, Abel R, Weidner N, Rupp R, Fürstenberg CH; EMSCI study group, Schneidmueller D. Functional outcome after traumatic cervical spinal cord injury is superior in adolescents compared to adults. Eur J Paediatr Neurol. 2018 Dec 11. pii: S1090-3798(18)30247-2. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpn.2018.12.001. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 30579697.
5)

Srinivas BH, Rajesh A, Purohit AK. Factors affecting the outcome of acute cervical spine injury: A prospective study. Asian J Neurosurg. 2017 Jul-Sep;12(3):416-423. doi: 10.4103/1793-5482.180942. PubMed PMID: 28761518; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5532925.
6)

Kim SY, Kim TU, Lee SJ, Hyun JK. The prognosis for patients with traumatic cervical spinal cord injury combined with cervical radiculopathy. Ann Rehabil Med. 2014 Aug;38(4):443-9. doi: 10.5535/arm.2014.38.4.443. Epub 2014 Aug 28. PubMed PMID: 25229022; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4163583.

Diffusion tensor imaging for degenerative cervical myelopathy

Diffusion tensor imaging for degenerative cervical myelopathy

Despite its invasiveness, computed tomography myelography (CTM) is still considered an important supplement to conventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for preoperative evaluation of multilevel degenerative cervical myelopathy. Schöller et al., analyzed if diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) could be a less invasive alternative for this purpose.

In 20 patients with degenerative cervical myelopathy and an indication for decompression of at least one level, CTM was performed preoperatively to determine the extent of spinal canal/cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) space and cord compression (Naganawa score) for a decision on the number of levels to be decompressed. Fractional anisotropy (FA) and apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) were correlated with these parameters and with MRI-based increased signal intensity (ISI). Receiver operating characteristic analysis was performed to determine the sensitivity to discriminate levels requiring decompression surgery. European Myelopathy Score(EMS) and neck/radicular visual analog scale (VAS-N/R) were used for clinical evaluation.

According to preoperative CTM, 20 levels of maximum and 16 levels of relevant additional stenosis were defined and decompressed. Preoperative FA and particularly ADC showed a significant correlation with the CTM Naganawa score but also with the ISI grade. Furthermore, both FA and ADC facilitated a good discrimination between stenotic and nonstenotic levels with cutoff values < 0.49 for FA and > 1.15 × 10-9 m2/s for ADC. FA and especially ADC revealed a considerably higher sensitivity (79% and 82%, respectively) in discriminating levels requiring decompression surgery compared with ISI (55%). EMS and VAS-N/R were significantly improved at 14 months compared with preoperative values.

DTI parameters are highly sensitive at distinguishing surgical from nonsurgical levels in CSM patients and might therefore represent a less invasive alternative to CTM for surgical planning 1).


A study population included 50 patients with symptoms of cervical myelopathy. The patients were evaluated based on symptoms using the European myelopathy scoring system and were divided into: Grade 1, including patients with mild symptoms; Grade 2, referring to patients with moderate symptoms and Grade 3, which included patients revealing severe symptoms. All the patients were investigated with a 1.5 T MRI unit acquiring DWI and DTI sequences. FA and ADC values from each spinal segment were analyzed in terms of Frequency, Percentage, Mean, Standard Deviation and Confidence Intervals. The comparison of values was done by ANOVA and post hoc analysis by bonferroni test. Comparison of accuracy of FA, ADC and T2WI in recognizing myelopathic changes was done by t-test. Receiver Operating Characteristics (ROC) analysis was performed to obtain a cut off value of FA and ADC for each spinal level to identify myelopathic change in the spinal cord.

The study revealed a significant difference in the mean FA and ADC value of stenotic and Non-stenotic segments. T2WI was highly significant (p = 0.000) in recognizing myelopathy changes in patients falling under Grade 2(moderate) and Grade 3(severe) according to European Myelopathy scoring system. Regarding patients under Grade 1 (mild) FA and ADC values showed significant difference compared to T2WI. The collective sensitivity in the identification of myelopathic changes was highest with FA (79%) as compared to ADC (71%) and T2WI (50%). ROC analysis was done to determine the cut off values of FA and ADC at each cervical spine segments. The proposed cut off, for FA and ADC at the level of C1-C2 is 0.68 and 0.92, C2-C3 is 0.65 and 1.03, C3-C4 is 0.63 and 1.01, C4-C5 0.61 and 0.98, At C5-C6 0.57 and 1.04, At C6-C7 0.56 and 0.96 respectively.

FA and ADC values enhance the efficacy and accuracy of MRI in the diagnosis of cervical spondylotic myelopathy. Hence diffusion tensor imaging can be used as a non-invasive modality to recognize spondylotic myelopathy changes even in the early stages, which can be helpful in deciding on appropriate timing of decompression surgery before the irreversible chronic changes set in 2).


A meta-analysis was conducted to assess alterations in measures of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) in the patients of cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM), exploring the potential role of DTI as a diagnosis biomarker. A systematic search of all related studies written in English was conducted using PubMed, Web of Science, EMBASE, CINAHL, and Cochrane comparing CSM patients with healthy controls. Key details for each study regarding participants, imaging techniques, and results were extracted. DTI measurements, such as fractional anisotropy (FA), apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC), and mean diffusivity (MD) were pooled to calculate the effect size (ES) by fixed or random effects meta-analysis. 14 studies involving 479 CSM patients and 278 controls were identified. Meta-analysis of the most compressed levels (MCL) of CSM patients demonstrated that FA was significantly reduced (ES -1.52, 95% CI -1.87 to -1.16, P < 0.001) and ADC was significantly increased (ES 1.09, 95% CI 0.89 to 1.28, P < 0.001). In addition, a notable ES was found for lowered FA at C2-C3 for CSM vs. controls (ES -0.83, 95% CI -1.09 to -0.570, P < 0.001). Meta-regression analysis revealed that male ratio of CSM patients had a significant effect on reduction of FA at MCL (P = 0.03). The meta-analysis of DTI studies of CSM patients clearly demonstrated a significant FA reduction and ADC increase compared with healthy subjects. This result supports the use of DTI parameters in differentiating CSM patients from health subjects. Future researches are required to investigate the diagnosis performance of DTI in cervical spondylotic myelopathy 3).


The measurement of DTI indexes within the spinal cord provides a quantitative assessment of neural damage in various spinal cord pathologies. DTI studies in animal models of spinal cord injury indicate that DTI is a reliable imaging technique with important histological and functional correlates.

DTI is a noninvasive marker of microstructural change within the spinal cord. In human studies, spinal cord DTI shows definite changes in subjects with acute and chronic spinal cord injury, as well as cervical spondylotic myelopathy. Interestingly, changes in DTI indexes are visualized in regions of the cord, which appear normal on conventional magnetic resonance imaging and are remote from the site of cord compression. Spinal cord DTI provides data that can help us understand underlying microstructural changes within the cord and assist in prognostication and planning of therapies 4).

References

1)

Schöller K, Siller S, Brem C, Lutz J, Zausinger S. Diffusion Tensor Imaging for Surgical Planning in Patients with Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy. J Neurol Surg A Cent Eur Neurosurg. 2019 Jun 10. doi: 10.1055/s-0039-1691822. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 31181580.
2)

Nukala M, Abraham J, Khandige G, Shetty BK, Rao APA. Efficacy of diffusion tensor imaging in identification of degenerative cervical spondylotic myelopathy. Eur J Radiol Open. 2018 Dec 12;6:16-23. doi: 10.1016/j.ejro.2018.08.006. eCollection 2019. PubMed PMID: 30581892; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6293016.
3)

Guan X, Fan G, Wu X, Gu G, Gu X, Zhang H, He S. Diffusion tensor imaging studies of cervical spondylotic myelopathy: a systemic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2015 Feb 11;10(2):e0117707. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0117707. eCollection 2015. Review. PubMed PMID: 25671624; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4363894.
4)

Vedantam A, Jirjis MB, Schmit BD, Wang MC, Ulmer JL, Kurpad SN. Diffusion tensor imaging of the spinal cord: insights from animal and human studies. Neurosurgery. 2014 Jan;74(1):1-8. doi: 10.1227/NEU.0000000000000171. PubMed PMID: 24064483.

Cervical spondylotic myelopathy surgery outcome

Cervical spondylotic myelopathy surgery outcome

see Machine learning for degenerative cervical myelopathy.

Whilst decompressive surgery can halt disease progression, existing spinal cord damage is often permanent, leaving patients with lifelong disability.

Early surgery improves the likelihood of recovery, yet the average time from onset of symptoms to correct diagnosis is over 2 years. The majority of delays occur initially, before and within primary care, mainly due to a lack of recognition. Symptom checkers are widely used by patients before medical consultation and can be useful for preliminary triage and diagnosis. Lack of recognition of Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy (DCM) by symptom checkers may contribute to the delay in diagnosis.

The impact of the changes in myelopathic signs following cervical decompression surgery and their relationship to functional outcome measures remains unclear.

Surgery is associated with a significant quality of life improvement. The intervention is cost effective and, from the perspective of the hospital payer, should be supported 1).

Surgical decompression for CSM is safe and results in improved functional status and quality of life in patients around the world, irrespective of differences in medical systems and socio-cultural determinants of health 2).

The successful management of CSM depends upon an early and accurate diagnosis, an objective assessment of impairment and disability, and an ability to predict outcome. In this field, quantitative measures are increasingly used by clinicians to grade functional and neurological status and to provide decision-making support 3).


In addition, objective assessment tools allow clinicians to quantify myelopathy severity, predict outcome, and evaluate surgical benefits by tracking improvements throughout follow-up 4) 5) 6).

Several outcome measures assess functional impairment and quality of life in patients with cervical myelopathy 7) 8) 9) 10) 11).

A validated “gold standard,” however, has not been established, preventing the development of quantitative guidelines for CSM management 12).

In this field, one of the most widely accepted tool for assessing functional status is the modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association scale (mJOA).

Some studies have found that resolution of T2 hyperintensity in subjects with CSM who undergo ventral decompressive surgery correlates with improved functional outcomes. Other studies have found little correlation with postoperative outcome 13) 14).

References

1)

Witiw CD, Tetreault LA, Smieliauskas F, Kopjar B, Massicotte EM, Fehlings MG. Surgery for degenerative cervical myelopathy: a patient centered quality of life and health economic evaluation. Spine J. 2016 Oct 25. pii: S1529-9430(16)31022-1. doi: 10.1016/j.spinee.2016.10.015. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 27793760.
2)

Fehlings MG, Ibrahim A, Tetreault L, Albanese V, Alvarado M, Arnold P, Barbagallo G, Bartels R, Bolger C, Defino H, Kale S, Massicotte E, Moraes O, Scerrati M, Tan G, Tanaka M, Toyone T, Yukawa Y, Zhou Q, Zileli M, Kopjar B. A Global Perspective on the Outcomes of Surgical Decompression in Patients with Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy: Results from the Prospective Multicenter AOSpine International Study on 479 patients. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2015 May 27. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 26020847.
3) , 12)

Singh A, Tetreault L, Casey A, et al. A summary of assessment tools for patients suffering from cervical spondylotic myelopathy: a systematic review on validity, reliability, and responsiveness [published online ahead of print September 5, 2013]. Eur Spine J. doi:10.1007/s00586-013-2935-x.
4)

Laing RJ. Measuring outcome in neurosurgery. Br J Neurosurg 2000;14:181–4.
5)

Holly LT, Matz PG, Anderson PA, et al. Clinical prognostic indicators of surgical outcome in cervical spondylotic myelopathy. J Neurosurg Spine 2009;11:112–8.
6)

Kalsi-Ryan S, Singh A, Massicotte EM, et al. Ancillary outcome measures for assessment of individuals with cervical spondylotic myelopathy. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 2013;38:S111–22.
7)

Singh A, Crockard HA. Quantitative assessment of cervical spondylotic myelopathy by a simple walking test. Lancet 1999;354:370–3.
8)

Nurick S. The natural history and the results of surgical treatment of the spinal cord disorder associated with cervical spondylosis. Brain 1972;95:101–8.
9)

Olindo S, Signate A, Richech A, et al. Quantitative assessment of hand disability by the nine-hole-peg test (9-HPT) in cervical spondylotic myelopathy. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 2008;79:965–7.
10)

Hosono N, Sakaura H, Mukai Y, et al. A simple performance test for quantifying the severity of cervical myelopathy [erratum in: J Bone Joint Surg Br 2008;90:1534]. J Bone Joint Surg Br 2008;90:1210–3.
11)

Casey AT, Bland JM, Crockard HA. Development of a functional scoring system for rheumatoid arthritis patients with cervical myelopathy. Ann Rheum Dis 1996;55:901–6.
13)

Sarkar S, Turel MK, Jacob KS, Chacko AG. The evolution of T2-weighted intramedullary signal changes following ventral decompressive surgery for cervical spondylotic myelopathy. J Neurosurg Spine. 2014;21(4):538-546.
14)

Vedantam A, Rajshekhar V. Change in morphology of intramedullary T2- weighted increased signal intensity after anterior decompressive surgery for cervical spondylotic myelopathy. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2014;39(18):1458-1462.
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