Surgery for degenerative cervical myelopathy in the elderly: a nationwide registry‐based observational study with patient‐reported outcomes

Acta Neurochirurgica (2022) 164:2317–2326

The aim of this study was to investigate whether clinical outcomes in patients aged ≥ 70 undergoing decompressive surgery for degenerative cervical myelopathy (DCM) differ from those of younger patients (50–70 years) at 1 year.

Methods Data were obtained from the Norwegian Registry for Spine Surgery (NORspine). Among 651 patients included, 177 (27.2%) were ≥ 70 years old. The primary outcome was change in the Neck Disability Index (NDI). Secondary outcomes were changes in the European Myelopathy Score (EMS), quality of life (EuroQoL EQ-5D), numeric rating scales (NRS) for headache, neck pain, and arm pain, and complications.

Results Significant improvements in all patient-reported outcomes (PROMs) were detected for both age cohorts at 1 year. For the two age cohorts combined, there was a statistically significant improvement in the NDI score (mean 9.2, 95% CI 7.7 to 10.6, P < 0.001). There were no differences between age cohorts in mean change of NDI (− 8.9 vs. − 10.1, P = 0.48), EQ-5D (0.13 vs. 0.17, P = 0.37), or NRS pain scores, but elderly patients experienced a larger improvement in EMS (0.7 vs. 1.3, P = 0.02). A total of 74 patients (15.6%) in the younger cohort and 43 patients (24.3%) in the older cohort experienced complications or adverse effects within 3 months of surgery, mainly urinary and respiratory tract infections.

Conclusion Surgery for DCM was associated with significant improvement across a wide range of PROMs for both younger and elderly patients. Surgery for DCM should not be denied based on age alone.