Neriman Özkan, Mehdi Chihi, Tobias Schoemberg, Thiemo Florin Dinger, Moritz Helsper, Ahmet Parlak, Ramazan Jabbarli, Yahya Ahmadipour, Ulrich Sure, Nicolai El Hindy, Oliver Gembruch

February 2022, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 327 - 333 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-021-07060-3

First Online: 25 November 2021

First neurological symptoms in degenerative cervical myelopathy: does it predict the outcome?


Degenerative cervical myelopathy (DCM) is the most common non-traumatic cause of spinal cord dysfunction. Prediction of the neurological outcome after surgery is important. The aim of this study was to analyze the relationship between first symptoms of DCM and the neurological outcome after surgery.


A retrospective analysis over a period of 10 years was performed. First symptoms such as cervicobrachial neuralgia, sensory and motor deficits and gait disturbances were evaluated regarding the postoperative neurological outcome. The modified Japanese Orthopedic Association Score (mJOA Score) was used to evaluate neurological outcome.


In total, 411 patients (263 males, 64%) with a median age of 62.6 ± 12.1 years were included. Cervicobrachial neuralgia was described in 40.2%, gait disturbance in 31.6%, sensory deficits in 19% and motor deficits in 9.2% as first symptom. Patients with cervicobrachial neuralgia were significantly younger (median age of 58 years, p = 0.0005) than patients with gait disturbances (median age of 68 years, p = 0.0005). Patients with gait disturbances and motor deficits as first symptom showed significantly lower mJOA Scores than other patients (p = 0.0005). Additionally, motor deficits and gait disturbance were negative predictors for postoperative outcome according to the mJOA Score.


Motor deficits and gait disturbances as the first symptom of DCM are negative predictors for postoperative neurological outcome. Nevertheless, patients with motor deficits and gait disturbance significantly profit from the surgical treatment despite poor preoperative mJOA Score.

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