Voxel-based analysis of grey and white matter degeneration in cervical spondylotic myelopathy

Sci Rep. 2016 Apr 20:6:24636. doi: 10.1038/srep24636.


In this prospective study, we made an unbiased voxel-based analysis to investigate above-stenosis spinal degeneration and its relation to impairment in patients with cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM). Twenty patients and 18 controls were assessed with high-resolution MRI protocols above the level of stenosis. Cross-sectional areas of grey matter (GM), white matter (WM), and posterior columns (PC) were measured to determine atrophy. Diffusion indices assessed tract-specific integrity of PC and lateral corticospinal tracts (CST). Regression analysis was used to reveal relationships between MRI measures and clinical impairment. Patients showed mainly sensory impairment. Atrophy was prominent within the cervical WM (13.9%, p = 0.004), GM (7.2%, p = 0.043), and PC (16.1%, p = 0.005). Fractional anisotropy (FA) was reduced in the PC (-11.98%, p = 0.006) and lateral CST (-12.96%, p = 0.014). In addition, radial (+28.47%, p = 0.014), axial (+14.72%, p = 0.005), and mean (+16.50%, p = 0.001) diffusivities were increased in the PC. Light-touch score was associated with atrophy (R(2) = 0.3559, p = 0.020) and FA (z score 3.74, p = 0.003) in the PC, as was functional independence and FA in the lateral CST (z score 3.68, p = 0.020). This study demonstrates voxel-based degeneration far above the stenosis at a level not directly affected by the compression and provides unbiased readouts of tract-specific changes that relate to impairment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cervical Cord / pathology
  • Cervical Vertebrae / pathology
  • Female
  • Gray Matter / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Outcome Assessment
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / etiology
  • Spondylosis
  • White Matter / pathology*