Short-term post-operative complications in 207 patients with multi-level degenerative cervical myelopathy: The effect of surgical approach

Ran Harel*, Maya Nulman, Gil Kimchi, Nachshon Knoller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction. Degenerative cervical myelopathy (DCM) is a common condition often treated by surgical decompression and fusion. The objective of this paper was to compare short-term post-operative complication rates of patients with multi-level DCM treated with decompression and fusion using either an anterior or a posterior cervical approach. Material and methods. A retrospective evaluation of patients’ charts, imaging studies and operative reports of patients operated for multilevel subaxial DCM from 2011 to 2016 at a single institution was performed. Patients who were operated upon for the treatment of three stenosed spinal levels or above and who underwent anterior cervical discectomy and fusion, or anterior cervical corpectomy and fusion, or posterior cervical laminectomy and fusion, were included. Short-term post-operative complications were compared between the anterior and posterior approaches. Results. Overall, 207 patients were included in this study. 156 were operated via an anterior approach and 51 via a posterior approach. The mean number of treated levels was 3.4 and 4.3 for the anterior and posterior approach groups, respectively (p < 0.001). In the posterior approach group, the proportion of stenosed spinal levels within all operated levels was significantly lower than in the anterior approach group (p = 0.025). Early post-operative neurological status change was favourable for both groups. Deep wound infection rate was significantly higher in the posterior approach group (7.8% vs. none; p = 0.001). Conclusions. Posterior cervical laminectomy and fusion is significantly associated with an increased rate of deep wound infection and wound revision surgery compared to the anterior approach. We recommend the anterior approach as the valid option in treating multi-level DCM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)404-409
Number of pages6
JournalNeurologia i Neurochirurgia Polska
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2022


  • anterior approach
  • cervical surgery
  • complications
  • degenerative cervical myelopathy
  • multi-level
  • posterior approach


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