Anterior and Posterior Approaches for Cervical Myelopathy: Clinical and Radiographic Outcomes

Patrick W. Hitchon, Royce W. Woodroffe, Jennifer A. Noeller, Logan Helland, Nataliya Hramakova, Kirill V. Nourski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Study Design.A retrospective cohort study.Objective.The aim of this study was to identify advantages and disadvantages of the anterior and posterior approaches in the treatment of cervical stenosis and myelopathy.Summary of Background Data.Both anterior and posterior surgical approaches for cervical stenosis and myelopathy have been shown to result in improvement in health-related outcomes. Despite the evidence, controversy remains regarding the best approach to achieve decompression and correct deformity.Methods.We retrospectively reviewed patients with cervical stenosis and myelopathy who had undergone anterior cervical fusion and instrumentation (n = 38) or posterior cervical laminectomy and instrumentation (n = 51) with at least 6 months of follow-up. Plain radiographs, magnetic resonance imaging, and computed tomography scans, as well as health-related outcomes, including Visual Analog Scale for neck pain, Japanese Orthopedic Association score for myelopathy, Neck Disability Index, and Short Form-36 Health Survey, were collated before surgery and at follow-up (median 12.0 and 12.1 months for anterior and posterior group, respectively).Results.Both anterior and posterior approaches were associated with significant improvements in all studied quality of life parameters with the exception of general health in the anterior group and energy and fatigue in the posterior group. In the anterior group, follow-up assessment revealed a significant increase in C2-7 lordosis. Both approaches were accompanied by significant increases in C2-7 sagittal balance [sagittal vertical axis (SVA)]. There were two complications in the anterior group and nine complications in the posterior group; the incidence of complications between the two groups was not significantly different.Conclusion.When the benefits of one approach over the other are not self-evident, the anterior approach is recommended, as it was associated with a shorter hospital stay and more successful restoration of cervical lordosis than posterior surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)615-623
Number of pages9
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Faith Vaughn for the preparation and editing of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.


  • anterior cervical fusion
  • C5 palsy
  • cervical laminectomy
  • cervical stenosis


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