Timing of Surgical Intervention for Dysphagia in Patients With Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal Hyperostosis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Clin Spine Surg. 2021 Jul 1;34(6):220-227. doi: 10.1097/BSD.0000000000001105.


Study design: This was a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Objective: The objective was (1) to measure rates of successful resolution of dysphagia in patients after undergoing surgical intervention for diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH); and (2) to determine if older age, longer duration of preoperative symptoms, or increased severity of disease was correlated with unsuccessful surgical intervention.

Summary of background data: DISH, also known as Forestier disease, is an enthesopathy affecting up to 35% of the elderly population. Many patients develop osteophytes of the anterior cervical spine, which contribute to chronic symptoms of dysphagia causing debilitating weight loss and possibly resulting in the placement of a permanent gastrostomy feeding tube. For patients that fail conservative medical management, an increase in surgical interventions have been reported in the literature in the last 2 decades.

Materials and methods: A systematic search was performed on PubMed, Medline, Cochrane Library, and Embase. Studies measuring outcomes after surgical intervention for patients with dysphagia from DISH were selected for inclusion. Two independent reviewers screened and assessed all literature in accordance with Cochrane systematic reviewing standards.

Results: In total, 22 studies reporting 119 patients were selected for inclusion. Successful relief of dysphagia was obtained in 89% of patients after surgical intervention. Failure to relieve dysphagia was associated with increased length of symptoms preoperatively (P<0.01) using logistic regression. Patients with more severe preoperative symptoms also seem to have an increased risk for treatment failure (risk ratio, 2.86; 95% confidence interval, 1.19-6.85; P=0.02). Treatment failure was not associated with patient age, use of intraoperative tracheostomy, implementation of additional fusion procedures, level of involved segments, or number of involved segments.

Conclusions: Patients undergoing surgical intervention have a higher likelihood of failing surgery with increasing preoperative symptom length and increased preoperative symptom severity.

Level of evidence: Level III.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cervical Vertebrae
  • Deglutition Disorders* / etiology
  • Deglutition Disorders* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Hyperostosis, Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal* / complications
  • Hyperostosis, Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal* / surgery
  • Neck
  • Osteophyte*