Clinical Presentation, Diagnosis, and Surgical Treatment of Spontaneous Cervical Intradural Disc Herniations

World Neurosurg. (2018) 109:275-284

Spontaneous cervical intradural disc herniation (IDH) is a rare occurrence with limited and disparate information available regarding its presentation, diagnosis, and treatment. However, its accurate detection is vital for planning surgical treatment. In this review of the literature, we collected data from all cervical IDHs described to date. Particular attention was paid to diagnostic findings, surgical approach, and causation for cervical IDH, especially at the cervicothoracic junction.

METHODS: A review for cases of cervical IDH was performed via the following search criteria: (“neck”[MeSH Terms] OR “neck”[All Fields] OR “cervical”[All Fields]) AND intradural[All Fields] AND disc[All Fields]. Thirtyseven cases of cervical disc herniation were identified. Demographic variables identified included age, sex, cervical level of herniation, history of associated cervical trauma, presence of Brown-Séquard syndrome, Horner syndrome, and other neurologic findings, radiographic findings, direction of surgical approach, and postoperative outcomes.

RESULTS: A total of 37 cases of cervical IDH were identified. Most of the cases occurred at the lower levels of the cervical spine, with 35.1% at the C5e C6 level, followed by 24.3% at C6eC7, and lower still at other levels. Of the patients reviewed, 44.4% had a previous history of trauma before manifestation of symptom, with the majority being spontaneous IDH with no previous history of trauma or spine surgery. Brown-Séquard syndrome was present in 43.2% of the patients, whereas 10.8% of patients experienced Horner syndrome. The most common presentations of IDH included quadriplegia, finger/gait ataxia, radiculopathy, and nuchal pain. The degree of neurologic recovery was not associated with patient age. Most of the cervical IDHs in the literature were treated surgically via an anterior approach, but a larger portion of patients who underwent a posterior approach had improved recovery.

CONCLUSIONS: Cervical IDH is a rare event, with this review of the literature outlining the clinical and radiographic parameters of its presentation as well as comparing common surgical strategies for treatment. We outline theories underlying the development of cervical IDH and argue for a posterior surgical approach in which the disc herniation is sequestrated with migration