Cervical radiculopathy and myelopathy: when and what can surgery contribute to treatment?

Eur Spine J. 2000 Feb;9(1):1-7. doi: 10.1007/s005860050001.


Indications and timing of surgical treatment for cervical radiculopathy and myelopathy, and the long-term results for the conditions, were reviewed. Advances in spinal imaging and accumulation of clinical experience have provided some clues as to indications and timing of surgery for cervical myelopathy. Duration of myelopathy prior to surgery and the transverse area of the spinal cord at the maximum compression level were the most significant prognostic parameters for surgical outcome. Thus, when myelopathy is caused by etiological factors that are either unchangeable by nature, such as developmental canal stenosis, or progressive, such as ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament, surgical treatment should be considered. When an etiology of myelopathy is remissible, such as soft disc herniation and listhesis, surgery may be reserved until the effects of conservative treatment are confirmed. When surgery is properly carried out, long-term surgical results are expected to be good and stable, and the natural course of myelopathy secondary to cervical spondylosis may be modified. However, little attention has been paid to the questions "When and what can surgery contribute to treatment of cervical radiculopathy?". A well-controlled clinical study including natural history should be done to provide some answers.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cervical Vertebrae*
  • Humans
  • Nerve Compression Syndromes / surgery*
  • Orthopedic Procedures*
  • Radiculopathy / surgery*
  • Spinal Nerve Roots*
  • Time Factors