Objective: Myelography has been shown to highlight foraminal and lateral recess stenosis more readily than computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). It also has the advantage of providing dynamic assessment of stenosis in the loaded spine. The advent of weight-bearing MRI may go some way towards improving assessment of the loaded spine and is less invasive, however availability remains limited. This study evaluates the potential role of myelography and its impact upon surgical decision making.
Methods: Of 270 patients undergoing myelography during 2006-2009, a period representing peak utilisation of this imaging modality in our unit, we identified 21 patients with degenerative scoliosis who fulfilled our inclusion criteria. An operative plan was formulated by our senior author based initially on interpretation of an MRI scan. Subsequent myelogram and CT myelogram investigations were scrutinised, with any additional abnormalities noted and whether these impacted upon the operative plan.
Results: From our 21 patients, 18 (85.7%) had myelographic findings not identified on MRI. Of note, in 4 patients, supine CT myelography yielded additional information when compared to supine MRI in the same patients. The management of 7 patients (33%) changed as a result of myelographic investigation. There were no complications of myelography of the total 270 analysed.
Conclusion: MRI scan alone understates the degree of central and lateral recess stenosis. In addition to the additional stenosis displayed by dynamic myelography in the loaded spine, we have also shown that static myelography and CT myelography are also invaluable tools with regards to surgical planning in these patients.
Keywords: Deformity; Degenerative; Imaging; Magnetic resonance imaging; Myelography.