Surgical Interventions for Cervical Radiculopathy without Myelopathy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

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BACKGROUND: The effectiveness of surgical interventions for cervical degenerative disorders has been investigated in multiple systematic reviews. Differences in study population (e.g., patients with myelopathy and/or radiculopathy) were often neglected. Therefore, the objective of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of surgical interventions for patients with symptoms of cervical radiculopathy without myelopathy by conducting a systematic review and meta-analysis based on randomized controlled trials (RCTs).

METHODS: A comprehensive systematic search was conducted in MEDLINE, Embase, and CENTRAL (Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials) to identify RCTs that investigated the effectiveness of surgical interventions using an anterior or posterior approach compared with other interventions for patients with pure cervical radiculopathy. Outcomes were success rates (Odom criteria, similar rating scales, or percentage of patients who improved), complication and reoperation rates, work status, disability (Neck Disability Index), and pain (arm and neck). The Cochrane risk-of-bias tool was used to assess the likelihood of the risk of bias. A random-effects model was used. Heterogeneity among study results (I ≥ 50% or p < 0.05) was explored by conducting subgroup analyses. Funnel plots were used to assess the likelihood of publication bias.

RESULTS: A total of 21 RCTs were included, comprising 1,567 patients. For all outcomes, among all surgical techniques, only 1 pooled estimate showed a significant effect on success rate, which was in favor of anterior cervical discectomy with fusion compared with anterior cervical discectomy without an intervertebral spacer (p = 0.02; risk ratio [RR] = 0.87; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.77 to 0.98). Complication rates were higher when autologous bone graft from the iliac crest was used as an intervertebral spacer (p < 0.01; RR = 3.40; 95% CI = 1.56 to 7.43), related to donor-site morbidity.

CONCLUSIONS: This meta-analysis demonstrated consistent results regarding clinical outcome for pure cervical radiculopathy among all studied interventions. Complication and reoperation rates were also similar, with the exception of higher complication rates in patients in whom autologous bone grafts were used. On the basis of clinical outcome and safety, there is no superior surgical intervention for pure cervical radiculopathy.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic Level I. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)2182-2196
Aantal pagina's15
TijdschriftJournal of Bone and Joint Surgery: American Volume
Nummer van het tijdschrift24
Vroegere onlinedatum25-aug.-2020
StatusPublished - 16-dec.-2020

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