Cervical spondylotic myelopathy and driving abilities: defining the prevalence and long-term postoperative outcomes using the Quality Outcomes Database.



Cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) can cause significant difficulty with driving and a subsequent reduction in an individual's quality of life due to neurological deterioration. The positive impact of surgery on postoperative patient-reported driving capabilities has been seldom explored.


The CSM module of the Quality Outcomes Database was utilized. Patient-reported driving ability was assessed via the driving section of the Neck Disability Index (NDI) questionnaire. This is an ordinal scale in which 0 represents the absence of symptoms while driving and 5 represents a complete inability to drive due to symptoms. Patients were considered to have an impairment in their driving ability if they reported an NDI driving score of 3 or higher (signifying impairment in driving duration due to symptoms). Multivariable logistic regression models were fitted to evaluate mediators of baseline impairment and improvement at 24 months after surgery, which was defined as an NDI driving score < 3.


A total of 1128 patients who underwent surgical intervention for CSM were included, of whom 354 (31.4%) had baseline driving impairment due to CSM. Moderate (OR 2.3) and severe (OR 6.3) neck pain, severe arm pain (OR 1.6), mild-moderate (OR 2.1) and severe (OR 2.5) impairment in hand/arm dexterity, severe impairment in leg use/walking (OR 1.9), and severe impairment of urinary function (OR 1.8) were associated with impaired driving ability at baseline. Of the 291 patients with baseline impairment and available 24-month follow-up data, 209 (71.8%) reported postoperative improvement in their driving ability. This improvement seemed to be mediated particularly through the achievement of the minimal clinically important difference (MCID) in neck pain and improvement in leg function/walking. Patients with improved driving at 24 months noted higher postoperative satisfaction (88.5% vs 62.2%, p < 0.01) and were more likely to achieve a clinically significant improvement in their quality of life (50.7% vs 37.8%, p < 0.01).


Nearly one-third of patients with CSM report impaired driving ability at presentation. Seventy-two percent of these patients reported improvements in their driving ability within 24 months of surgery. Surgical management of CSM can significantly improve patients' driving abilities at 24 months and hence patients' quality of life.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Agarwal, Nitin, Sarah E Johnson, Mohamad Bydon, Erica F Bisson, Andrew K Chan, Saman Shabani, Vijay Letchuman, Giorgos D Michalopoulos, et al. (2024). Cervical spondylotic myelopathy and driving abilities: defining the prevalence and long-term postoperative outcomes using the Quality Outcomes Database. Journal of neurosurgery. Spine. pp. 1–12. 10.3171/2023.11.spine23738 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/30192.

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.



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.

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.