Diffusion Tensor Imaging in a Large Longitudinal Series of Patients With Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy Correlated With Long-Term Functional Outcome
Oxford University Press
Fractional anisotropy (FA) of the high cervical cord correlates with upper limb function in acute cervical cord injury. We investigated the correlation between preoperative FA at the level of maximal compression and functional recovery in a group of patients after decompressive surgery for cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM). OBJECTIVE
To determine the usefulness of FA as a biomarker for severity of CSM and as a prognostic biomarker for improvement after surgery. METHODS
Patients received diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) scans preoperatively. FA values of the whole cord cross-section at the level of maximal compression and upper cervical cord (C1-2) were calculated. Functional status was measured using the modified Japanese Orthopedic Association (mJOA) scale preoperatively and at follow-up up to 2 yr. Regression analysis between FA and mJOA was performed. DTI at C4-7 was obtained in controls. RESULTS
Forty-four CSM patients enrolled prior to decompression were compared with 24 controls. FA at the level of maximal compression correlated positively with preoperative mJOA score. Preoperative FA correlated inversely with recovery throughout the postoperative period. This was statistically significant at 12 mo postoperation and nearly so at 6 and 24 mo. Patients with preoperative FA <0.55 had a statistically significant difference in outcome compared to FA >0.55. CONCLUSION
In the largest longitudinal study of this kind, FA promises a valid biomarker for severity of CSM and postoperative improvement. FA is an objective measure of function and could provide a basis for prognosis. FA is particularly useful if preoperative values are less than 0.55.