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A Prospective, Randomized Trial Comparing Expansile Cervical Laminoplasty and Cervical Laminectomy and Fusion for Multilevel Cervical Myelopathy

Manzano, Glen R. MD; Casella, Gizelda MD, PhD; Wang, Michael Y. MD; Vanni, Steven DO, DC; Levi, Allan D. MD, PhD

Neurosurgery 70:2:264–277, 2012. doi: 10.1227/NEU.0b013e3182305669

BACKGROUND: Controversy exists as to the best posterior operative procedure to treat multilevel compressive cervical spondylotic myelopathy.

OBJECTIVE: To determine clinical, radiological, and patient satisfaction outcomes between expansile cervical laminoplasty (ECL) and cervical laminectomy and fusion (CLF). METHODS: We performed a prospective, randomized study of ECL vs CLF in patients suffering from cervical spondylotic myelopathy. End points included the Short Form-36, Neck Disability Index, Visual Analog Scale, modified Japanese Orthopedic Association score, Nurick score, and radiographic measures.

RESULTS: A survey of academic North American spine surgeons (n = 30) demonstrated that CLF is the most commonly used (70%) posterior procedure to treat multilevel spondylotic cervical myelopathy. A total of 16 patients were randomized: 7 to CLF and 9 to ECL. Both groups showed improvements in their Nurick grade and Japanese Orthopedic Association score postoperatively, but only the improvement in the Nurick grade for the ECL group was statistically significant (P < .05). The cervical range of motion between C2 and C7 was reduced by 75% in the CLF group and by only 20% in the ECL group in a comparison of preoperative and postoperative range of motion. The overall increase in canal area was significantly (P < .001) greater in the CLF group, but there was a suggestion that the adjacent level was more narrowed in the CLF group in as little as 1 year postoperatively.

CONCLUSION: In many respects, ECL compares favorably to CLF. Although the patient numbers were small, there were significant improvements in pain measures in the ECL group while still maintaining range of motion. Restoration of spinal canal area was superior in the CLF group.

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