Dynamic Cord Compression Causing Cervical Myelopathy.

TitleDynamic Cord Compression Causing Cervical Myelopathy.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsJoaquim AFernandes, Baum G, Tan LA, K Riew D
Date Published2019 Jul 24

The diagnosis of cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) is made based on clinical signs and symptoms, and then confirmed with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or CT myelogram. Due to the highly mobile nature of the cervical spine, and the fact that most MRIs and CTs are obtained only in one single position, dynamic cord compression can be an elusive diagnosis that is often missed and not well-understood. In this context, dynamic MRI (dMRI) has been utilized to improve the diagnostic accuracy of cervical stenosis in cases where static MRI does not provide enough information to establish a diagnosis or to provide additional information. We performed a literature review on dynamic cord compression in the context of CSM, with particular emphasis on the role of dynamic MRI (dMRI). Cadaveric studies report that the spinal cord lengthens in flexion and the spinal canal dimension increases, whereas the spinal cord relaxes and shortens in extension and the spinal canal decreases. These changes may lead to biomechanical stress in the spinal cord with movement, especially in patients with critical cervical stenosis. The majority of the studies using dMRI in CSM reported that this imaging modality is more sensitive at detecting cervical cord compression compared to routine MRIs done in a neutral position, especially with the neck in extension. Occult anterior compression has also been reported by some authors in flexion, but occurs less frequently. DMRI was also useful to diagnose dynamic cervical cord compression after laminectomies in patients with clinical deterioration without evident cord compression on neutral static MRI. Finally, dMRI are more sensitive in detecting stenosis in patients with CSM than in those with OPLL, likely because OPLL patients often have a more limited ROM than CSM patients. Thus, dMRI is a promising new tool that can help spine surgeons in diagnosing and treating CSM. However, further studies are needed to establish the utilization criteria and the clinical value of dMRI.

Alternate JournalNeurospine
PubMed ID31345013