Spinal cord drift following laminoplasty versus laminectomy and fusion for cervical spondylotic myelopathy

Adedayo O. Ashana, Remi M. Ajiboye, William L. Sheppard, Chad R. Ishmael, Jeremiah Y. Cohen, Joel S. Beckett, Langston T. Holly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Cervical laminoplasty and laminectomy and fusion (LF) are posterior-based surgical techniques for the surgical treatment of cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM). Interestingly, the comparative amount of spinal cord drift obtained from these procedures has not been extensively described. The purpose of this study is to compare spinal cord drift between cervical laminoplasty and LF in patients with CSM. Methods: The laminoplasty group consisted of 22 patients, and the LF group consisted of 44 patients. Preoperative and postoperative alignment was measured using the Cobb angle (C2–C7). Spinal cord position was measured on axial T2-magnetic resonance imaging of the cervical spine preoperatively and postoperatively. Spinal cord drift was quantified by subtracting preoperative values from postoperative values. Functional improvement was assessed using the modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association (mJOA) score. Results: Mean spinal cord drift was higher following LF compared to laminoplasty (2.70 vs 1.71 mm, P, .01). Using logistic regression analysis, there was no correlation between sagittal alignment and spinal cord drift. Both groups showed an improvement in mJOA scores postoperatively compared to their preoperative values (laminoplasty, þ2.0, P ¼ .012; LF, þ2.4, P, .01). However, there was no difference in mJOA score improvement postoperatively between both groups (P ¼ .482). Conclusions: This study demonstrates that patients who had LF for CSM achieved more spinal cord drift postoperatively compared to those who had laminoplasty. However, the increased drift did not translate into superior functional outcome as measured by the mJOA score. Level of Evidence: 3. Clinical Relevance: Spinal cord drift following LF may differ from laminoplasty in patients undergoing surgery for CSM. This finding should be considered when assessing CSM patients for surgical intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)205-212
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Spine Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Cervical
  • Drift
  • Fusion
  • Laminectomy
  • Laminoplasty
  • Myelopathy
  • Spinal cord

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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