Patients' beliefs about diagnosis and treatment of cervical spondylosis with radiculopathy

Acta Neurochir (Wien). 2017 Dec;159(12):2379-2384. doi: 10.1007/s00701-017-3356-0. Epub 2017 Oct 23.


Background: The clinical results of surgical spine care may be influenced by the patients' understanding and knowledge of his or her condition, treatment options and decision-making process. The aim of this survey study was to evaluate certain beliefs and opinions of patients with a degenerative condition in the cervical spine with a history of cervical radiculopathy such as importance of magnetic resonance imaging, risk factors, treatment alternatives and effectiveness.

Methods: An anonymous questionnaire survey was performed on two different patient populations with a degenerative condition in the cervical spine with a history of cervical radiculopathy referred to the outpatients' clinics of two neurosurgical departments in Germany and Norway. The survey consisted of seven questions: four questions about the respondents' gender and age, history of previous spine surgery and/or conservative treatment for cervical disorder and three questions regarding the importance of imaging in the decision-making process, patients' willingness to undergo cervical surgery based on imaging findings even with few or no symptoms and the effectiveness of surgical or conservative treatment.

Results: Two hundred eleven patients answered the questionnaire. Sixty-seven percent of all patients with a degenerative cervical condition believe that results from MRI studies are more important than clinical findings. Forty-seven percent were willing to undergo surgery based on MRI showing abnormalities even without or having few symptoms. Fifty percent believe that surgery is more effective in the treatment of axial neck pain.

Conclusion: Misbeliefs and misconceptions exist concerning certain aspects of the diagnosis and management in patients with degenerative conditions in the cervical spine with a history of cervical radiculopathy in a large proportion of patients referred to neurosurgical outpatient clinics.

Keywords: Cervical spine; Magnetic resonance imaging; Spine surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude*
  • Cervical Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Cervical Vertebrae / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patients / psychology*
  • Radiculopathy / psychology*
  • Radiculopathy / surgery
  • Spondylosis / psychology*
  • Spondylosis / surgery
  • Surveys and Questionnaires