What factors influence surgical decision-making in anterior versus posterior surgery for cervical myelopathy? A QOD analysis.



The aim of this study was to explore the preoperative patient characteristics that affect surgical decision-making when selecting an anterior or posterior operative approach in patients diagnosed with cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM).


This was a multi-institutional, retrospective study of the prospective Quality Outcomes Database (QOD) Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy module. Patients aged 18 years or older diagnosed with primary CSM who underwent multilevel (≥ 2-level) elective surgery were included. Demographics and baseline clinical characteristics were collected.


Of the 841 patients with CSM in the database, 492 (58.5%) underwent multilevel anterior surgery and 349 (41.5%) underwent multilevel posterior surgery. Surgeons more often performed a posterior surgical approach in older patients (mean 64.8 ± 10.6 vs 58.5 ± 11.1 years, p < 0.001) and those with a higher American Society of Anesthesiologists class (class III or IV: 52.4% vs 46.3%, p = 0.003), a higher rate of motor deficit (67.0% vs 58.7%, p = 0.014), worse myelopathy (mean modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association score 11.4 ± 3.1 vs 12.4 ± 2.6, p < 0.001), and more levels treated (4.3 ± 1.3 vs 2.4 ± 0.6, p < 0.001). On the other hand, surgeons more frequently performed an anterior surgical approach when patients were employed (47.2% vs 23.2%, p < 0.001) and had intervertebral disc herniation as an underlying pathology (30.7% vs 9.2%, p < 0.001).


The selection of approach for patients with CSM depends on patient demographics and symptomology. Posterior surgery was performed in patients who were older and had worse systemic disease, increased myelopathy, and greater levels of stenosis. Anterior surgery was more often performed in patients who were employed and had intervertebral disc herniation.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Park, Christine, Christopher I Shaffrey, Khoi D Than, Giorgos D Michalopoulos, Sally El Sammak, Andrew K Chan, Erica F Bisson, Brandon A Sherrod, et al. (2023). What factors influence surgical decision-making in anterior versus posterior surgery for cervical myelopathy? A QOD analysis. Journal of neurosurgery. Spine. pp. 1–10. 10.3171/2023.8.spine23194 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/29439.

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.


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.


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.

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