Degenerative cervical myelopathy (DCM) is the most common cause of spinal cord dysfunction in adults. Its prevalence is increasing as a result of population aging. The diagnosis of DCM is often delayed or overlooked, resulting in secondary neurologic morbidity. The natural course of DCM typically presents as a gradual neurological deterioration, with symptoms ranging from muscle weakness to complete paralysis, with variable degrees of sensory deficits and sphincter dysfunction. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and electrophysiological studies allow the assessment of spinal cord function and its structural damage to determine treatment and clinical outcomes. All patients with signs and symptoms consistent with DCM should be referred to a spine surgeon for assessment and tailored treatment. Those patients with mild DCM can be managed non-operatively but require close monitoring and education about potentially alarming signs and symptoms. Surgery is not currently recommended for asymptomatic patients with evidence of spinal cord compression or cervical spinal stenosis on MRI, but they require a structured follow-up. Patients with moderate or severe DCM require surgical decompression to avoid further progression. The objective of this review is to raise awareness of degenerative cervical myelopathy and its increasing prevalence as well as to aid non-surgical healthcare workers for a timely diagnosis and management of this disabling condition.
Yurac, Ratko; Matamala, José Manuel; Zamorano, Juan José; Harrop, James S; Davies, Benjamin M; Nouri, Aria; and Fehlings, Michael G, "Degenerative cervical myelopathy" (2022). Department of Neurology Faculty Papers. Paper 300.
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