Consultation and Surgical Wait Times in Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy

Can J Neurol Sci. 2019 Jul;46(4):430-435. doi: 10.1017/cjn.2019.34. Epub 2019 May 3.


Background: Cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) is the leading cause of spinal cord impairment. In a public healthcare system, wait times to see spine specialists and eventually access surgical treatment for CSM can be substantial. The goals of this study were to determine consultation wait times (CWT) and surgical wait times (SWT), and identify predictors of wait time length.

Methods: Consecutive patients enrolled in the Canadian Spine Outcomes and Research Network (CSORN) prospective and observational CSM study from March 2015 to July 2017 were included. A data-splitting technique was used to develop and internally validate multivariable models of potential predictors.

Results: A CSORN query returned 264 CSM patients for CWT. The median was 46 days. There were 31% mild, 35% moderate, and 33% severe CSM. There was a statistically significant difference in median CWT between moderate and severe groups; 207 patients underwent surgical treatment. Median SWT was 42 days. There was a statistically significant difference in SWT between mild/moderate and severe groups. Short symptom duration, less pain, lower BMI, and lower physical component score of SF-12 were predictive of shorter CWT. Only baseline pain and medication duration were predictive of SWT. Both CWT and SWT were shorter compared to a concurrent cohort of lumbar stenosis patients (p <0.001).

Conclusions: Patients with shorter duration (either symptoms or medication) and less neck pain waited less to see a spine specialist in Canada and to undergo surgical treatment. This study highlights some of the obstacles to overcome in expedited care for this patient population.

Keywords: Cervical; Myelopathy; Prediction; Wait times.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Canada
  • Cervical Vertebrae
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Spinal Cord Compression / diagnosis*
  • Spinal Cord Compression / etiology
  • Spinal Cord Compression / surgery*
  • Spondylosis / complications
  • Spondylosis / diagnosis*
  • Spondylosis / surgery*
  • Time-to-Treatment / statistics & numerical data*