Do comorbid self-reported depression and anxiety influence outcomes following surgery for cervical spondylotic myelopathy?



Depression and anxiety are associated with inferior outcomes following spine surgery. In this study, the authors examined whether patients with cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) who have both self-reported depression (SRD) and self-reported anxiety (SRA) have worse postoperative patient-reported outcomes (PROs) compared with patients who have only one or none of these comorbidities.


This study is a retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data from the Quality Outcomes Database CSM cohort. Comparisons were made among patients who reported the following: 1) either SRD or SRA, 2) both SRD and SRA, or 3) neither comorbidity at baseline. PROs at 3, 12, and 24 months (scores for the visual analog scale [VAS] for neck pain and arm pain, Neck Disability Index [NDI], modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association [mJOA] scale, EQ-5D, EuroQol VAS [EQ-VAS], and North American Spine Society [NASS] patient satisfaction index) and achievement of respective PRO minimal clinically important differences (MCIDs) were compared.


Of the 1141 included patients, 199 (17.4%) had either SRD or SRA alone, 132 (11.6%) had both SRD and SRA, and 810 (71.0%) had neither. Preoperatively, patients with either SRD or SRA alone had worse scores for VAS neck pain (5.6 ± 3.1 vs 5.1 ± 3.3, p = 0.03), NDI (41.0 ± 19.3 vs 36.8 ± 20.8, p = 0.007), EQ-VAS (57.0 ± 21.0 vs 60.7 ± 21.7, p = 0.03), and EQ-5D (0.53 ± 0.23 vs 0.58 ± 0.21, p = 0.008) than patients without such disorders. Postoperatively, in multivariable adjusted analyses, baseline SRD or SRA alone was associated with inferior improvement in the VAS neck pain score and a lower rate of achieving the MCID for VAS neck pain score at 3 and 12 months, but not at 24 months. At 24 months, patients with SRD or SRA alone experienced less change in EQ-5D scores and were less likely to meet the MCID for EQ-5D than patients without SRD or SRA. Furthermore, patient self-reporting of both psychological comorbidities did not impact PROs at all measured time points compared with self-reporting of only one psychological comorbidity alone. Each cohort (SRD or SRA alone, both SRD and SRA, and neither SRD nor SRA) experienced significant improvements in mean PROs at all measured time points compared with baseline (p < 0.05).


Approximately 12% of patients who underwent surgery for CSM presented with both SRD and SRA, and 29% presented with at least one symptom. The presence of either SRD or SRA was independently associated with inferior scores for 3- and 12-month neck pain following surgery, but this difference was not significant at 24 months. However, at long-term follow-up, patients with SRD or SRA experienced lower quality of life than patients without SRD or SRA. The comorbid presence of both depression and anxiety was not associated with worse patient outcomes than either diagnosis alone.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Chan, Andrew K, Christopher I Shaffrey, Christine Park, Oren N Gottfried, Khoi D Than, Erica F Bisson, Mohamad Bydon, Anthony L Asher, et al. (2023). Do comorbid self-reported depression and anxiety influence outcomes following surgery for cervical spondylotic myelopathy?. Journal of neurosurgery. Spine. pp. 1–17. 10.3171/2023.2.spine22685 Retrieved from

This is constructed from limited available data and may be imprecise. To cite this article, please review & use the official citation provided by the journal.



Christopher Ignatius Shaffrey

Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery

I have more than 25 years of experience treating patients of all ages with spinal disorders. I have had an interest in the management of spinal disorders since starting my medical education. I performed residencies in both orthopaedic surgery and neurosurgery to gain a comprehensive understanding of the entire range of spinal disorders. My goal has been to find innovative ways to manage the range of spinal conditions, straightforward to complex. I have a focus on managing patients with complex spinal disorders. My patient evaluation and management philosophy is to provide engaged, compassionate care that focuses on providing the simplest and least aggressive treatment option for a particular condition. In many cases, non-operative treatment options exist to improve a patient’s symptoms. I have been actively engaged in clinical research to find the best ways to manage spinal disorders in order to achieve better results with fewer complications.


Oren N Gottfried

Professor of Neurosurgery

I specialize in the surgical management of all complex cervical, thoracic, lumbar, or sacral spinal diseases by using minimally invasive as well as standard approaches for arthritis or degenerative disease, deformity, tumors, and trauma. I have a special interest in the treatment of thoracolumbar deformities, occipital-cervical problems, and in helping patients with complex spinal issues from previously unsuccessful surgery or recurrent disease.I listen to my patients to understand their symptoms and experiences so I can provide them with the information and education they need to manage their disease. I make sure my patients understand their treatment options, and what will work best for their individual condition. I treat all my patients with care and concern – just as I would treat my family. I am available to address my patients' concerns before and after surgery.  I aim to improve surgical outcomes for my patients and care of all spine patients with active research evaluating clinical and radiological results after spine surgery with multiple prospective databases. I am particularly interested in prevention of spinal deformity, infections, complications, and recurrent spinal disease. Also, I study whether patient specific variables including pelvic/sacral anatomy and sagittal spinal balance predict complications from spine surgery.


Khoi Duc Than

Professor of Neurosurgery

I chose to pursue neurosurgery as a career because of my fascination with the human nervous system. In medical school, I developed a keen interest in the diseases that afflict the brain and spine and gravitated towards the only field where I could help treat these diseases with my own hands. I focus on disorders of the spine where my first goal is to help patients avoid surgery if at all possible. If surgery is needed, I treat patients using the most advanced minimally invasive techniques available in order to minimize pain, blood loss, and hospital stay, while maximizing recovery, neurologic function, and quality of life. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I am an avid sports fan and love to eat. I try to stay physically fit by going to the gym and playing ice hockey.

Unless otherwise indicated, scholarly articles published by Duke faculty members are made available here with a CC-BY-NC (Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial) license, as enabled by the Duke Open Access Policy. If you wish to use the materials in ways not already permitted under CC-BY-NC, please consult the copyright owner. Other materials are made available here through the author’s grant of a non-exclusive license to make their work openly accessible.