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Is cervical decompression beneficial in patients with coexistent cervical stenosis and multiple sclerosis?

Lee A. Tan, Manish K. Kasliwal, Christopher C. Muth, Dusan Stefoski, Vincent C. Traynelis

Journal of Clinical Neuroscience, Available online 31 July 2014

Abstract
Cervical stenosis (CS) and multiple sclerosis (MS) are two common conditions with distinctive pathophysiology but overlapping clinical manifestations. The uncertainty involved in attributing worsening symptoms to CS in patients with MS due to extremely high prevalence of asymptomatic radiological CS makes treatment decisions challenging. A retrospective review was performed analyzing the medical records of all patients with confirmed diagnosis of MS who had coexistent CS and underwent surgery for cervical radiculopathy/myeloradiculopathy. Eighteen patients with coexistent CS and MS who had undergone cervical spine decompression and fusion were identified. There were six men and 12 women with an average age of 52.7 years (range 40–72 years). Pre-operative symptoms included progressive myelopathy (14 patients), neck pain (seven patients), radiculopathy (five patients), and bladder dysfunction (seven patients). Thirteen of the 14 patients (92.9%) with myelopathy showed either improvement (4/14, 28.6%) or stabilization (9/14, 64.3%) in their symptoms with neck pain and radiculopathy improving in 100% and 80% of patients, respectively. None of the seven patients with urinary dysfunction had improvement in urinary symptoms after surgery. To conclude, cervical spine decompression and fusion can improve or stabilize myelopathy, and significantly relieve neck pain and radiculopathy in the majority of patients with coexistent CS and MS. Urinary dysfunctions appear unlikely to improve after surgery. The low rate of surgical complications in our cohort demonstrates that cervical spine surgery can be safely performed in carefully selected patients with concomitant CS and MS with a good clinical outcome and also eliminate CS as a confounding factor in the long-term management of MS patients.

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About the Editors

  • Prof Timothy Vartanian

    dsc_0787_400x400.jpg Timothy Vartanian, Professor at the Brain and Mind Research Institute and the Department of Neurology, Weill Cornell Medical College,...
  • Dr Claire S. Riley

    headshotcsr1_185x250.jpg Claire S. Riley, MD is an assistant attending neurologist and assistant professor of neurology in the Neurological Institute, Columbia...
  • Dr Rebecca Farber

    picforelsevier.jpg Rebecca Farber, MD is an attending neurologist and assistant professor of neurology at the Neurological Institute, Columbia University, in...

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