Improvement of postural stability and gait velocity after cervical decompression surgery in patients with cervical spondylotic myelopathy

J Neurosurg Spine. 2023 Jan 27:1-8. doi: 10.3171/2022.12.SPINE22814. Online ahead of print.


Objective: Cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) is a progressive degenerative condition that can lead to significant neurological deficits, including gait instability. Biomechanical alterations of gait and its various components are poorly understood. The goal of the current study was to determine how spatiotemporal gait parameters, as well as postural and dynamic stability, change after surgery in CSM patients.

Methods: A total of 47 subjects were included, with 23 test subjects and 24 controls. Baseline measurements were made for both cohorts. In the CSM cohort, repeat measurements were made at 3 and 6 months postoperatively. To record spatiotemporal and dynamic stability parameters, subjects performed walking trials over force plates on a 15-m runway. To assess postural stability, standing balance trials were conducted on a floor-mounted force plate. Three-dimensional motion analysis cameras and gait modeling software were used to quantify and visually represent results. Statistical analysis was completed using repeated-measures ANOVA and paired t-tests. Significance was set at p < 0.05.

Results: CSM patients had significantly increased gait velocity at the 6-month follow-up (mean 0.948 ± 0.248 m/sec/leg length) versus baseline (mean 0.852 ± 0.257 m/sec/leg length) (p = 0.039). The tilted ellipse area was significantly decreased at the 6-month follow-up compared with baseline (mean 979.8 ± 856.7 mm2 vs 598.0 ± 391.1 mm2, p = 0.018). Angular momentum excursion was not significantly different between baseline and the 3- and 6-month follow-ups.

Conclusions: CSM patients displayed significant improvement in gait velocity and postural stability parameters after decompressive surgery. Dynamic stability parameters did not change significantly during the study period.

Keywords: cervical; decompression; gait; myelopathy; stability.