More About Myelopathy

In this month’s first blog we discussed damage to the spinal cord — myelopathy. It is named for the area of the spine where it occurs: cervical myelopathy, thoracic myelopathy, and lumbar myelopathy. The most common form is cervical myelopathy, so in this second blog of June let’s get into a little more depth on spinal cord damage in the neck.

Due to spondylosis

Most cervical myelopathy is due to spondylosis, which simply refers to degenerative or age-related changes in the spine. These changes include disc degeneration, bone spurs, and thickened ligaments. When these changes affect the fibers of the spinal cord, this is cervical spondylotic myelopathy. As we discussed in June’s first blog, symptoms will include weakness, numbness, tingling, and clumsiness of the hands. Cervical myelopathy doesn’t usually involve a lot of pain.

Diagnosing cervical myelopathy

When Dr. Tinley is looking at the causes of a patient’s symptoms, he has to be aware that cervical myelopathy can present similar symptoms to other conditions. He’ll look at the patient’s health history and perform a physical exam. He’ll probably use imaging tests to rule out other possible conditions. These could include:

  • Post-myelography computed tomography — This consists of X-rays taken after the injection of radio-opaque contrast material into the spinal fluid via a lumbar puncture.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging scan — MRIs provide the best method of imaging the spinal cord, nerve roots, intervertebral discs, and ligaments.

Treating myelopathy

The goal of treatments with Dr. Tinley is to decompress the spinal cord. He performs various surgical procedures to achieve decompression. The exact procedure used depends upon the location and type of stenosis, the overall alignment of the cervical spine, and other factors.

If the surgery is performed from the front of the neck, this is an anterior approach. Dr. Tinley may use these procedures:

  • Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion
  • Anterior cervical corpectomy and fusion

If the surgery is performed from the back of the neck, this is a posterior approach. These could be the procedures used:

  • Cervical laminectomy
  • Cervical laminectomy and fusion
  • Cervical laminoplasty

If you have any symptoms of myelopathy in any part of your spinal cord, please give us a call at DFW Center for Spinal Disorders, (817) 916-4685.

Posted in: Myelopathy

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