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This article is the author's final published version in Asian Spine Journal, Volume 17, Issue 6, 2023, Pg. 1051 - 1058.

The published version is available at Copyright © 2023 by Korean Society of Spine Surgery.


STUDY DESIGN: This study is a retrospective cohort study.

PURPOSE: This study aims to determine whether preoperative neuroforaminal stenosis (FS) severity is associated with motor function patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) following anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF).

OVERVIEW OF LITERATURE: Cervical FS can significantly contribute to patient symptoms. While magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has been used to classify FS, there has been limited research into the impact of FS severity on patient outcomes.

METHODS: Patients undergoing primary, elective 1-3 level ACDF for radiculopathy at a single academic center between 2015 and 2021 were identified retrospectively. Cervical FS was evaluated using axial T2-weighted MRI images via a validated grading scale. The maximum degree of stenosis was used for multilevel disease. Motor symptoms were classified using encounters at their final preoperative and first postoperative visits, with examinations ≤3/5 indicating weakness. PROMs were obtained preoperatively and at 1-year follow-up. Bivariate analysis was used to compare outcomes based on stenosis severity, followed by multivariable analysis.

RESULTS: This study included 354 patients, 157 with moderate stenosis and 197 with severe stenosis. Overall, 58 patients (16.4%) presented with upper extremity weakness ≤3/5. A similar number of patients in both groups presented with baseline motor weakness (13.5% vs. 16.55, p =0.431). Postoperatively, 97.1% and 87.0% of patients with severe and moderate FS, respectively, experienced full motor recovery (p =0.134). At 1-year, patients with severe neuroforaminal stenosis presented with significantly worse 12-item Short Form Survey Physical Component Score (PCS-12) (33.3 vs. 37.3, p =0.049) but demonstrated a greater magnitude of improvement (Δ PCS-12: 5.43 vs. 0.87, p =0.048). Worse stenosis was independently associated with greater ΔPCS-12 at 1-year (β =5.59, p =0.022).

CONCLUSIONS: Patients with severe FS presented with worse preoperative physical health. While ACDF improved outcomes and conferred similar motor recovery in all patients, those with severe FS reported much better improvement in physical function.

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