Research activity amongst DCM research priorities

Acta Neurochir (Wien). 2021 Jun;163(6):1561-1568. doi: 10.1007/s00701-021-04767-6. Epub 2021 Feb 24.


Introduction: Degenerative cervical myelopathy (DCM) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder. DCM is common (estimated prevalence, 2% of adults) and significantly impacts quality of life. The AO Spine RECODE-DCM (Research Objectives and Common Data Elements in DCM) project has recently established the top research priorities for DCM. This article examines the extent to which existing research activity aligns with the established research priorities.

Methods: A systematic review of MEDLINE and Embase for "Cervical" AND "Myelopathy" was conducted following PRISMA guidelines. Full-text papers in English, exclusively studying DCM, published between January 1, 1995 and August 08, 2020 were considered eligible. Extracted data for each study included authors, journal, year of publication, location, sample size and study design. Each study was then analysed for alignment to the established research priorities.

Results: In total, 2261 papers with a total of 1,323,979 patients were included. Japan published more papers (625) than any other country. Moreover, 2005 (89%) of 2261 papers were aligned to at least one research priority. The alignment of papers to the different research priorities was unequal, with 1060 papers on the most researched priority alone (#15, predictors of outcome after treatment), but only 64 total papers on the least-researched 10 priorities. The comparative growth of research in the different priorities was also unequal, with some priorities growing and others plateauing over the past 5 years.

Discussion: Research activity in DCM continues to grow, and the focus of this research remains on surgery. The established research priorities therefore represent a new direction for the field.

Keywords: Cervical; Degeneration; Degenerative; Myelopathy; Spondylosis; Spondylotic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cervical Vertebrae / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Neurosurgery / methods
  • Neurosurgery / statistics & numerical data*
  • Periodicals as Topic / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality of Life
  • Research / statistics & numerical data*
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / surgery*