Assessment of degenerative cervical myelopathy differs between specialists and may influence time to diagnosis and clinical outcomes.
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Hilton, B., Tempest-Mitchell, J., Davies, B., & Kotter, M. (2018). Assessment of degenerative cervical myelopathy differs between specialists and may influence time to diagnosis and clinical outcomes.. PLoS One, 13 (12), e0207709. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0207709
INTRODUCTION: Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy [DCM] often presents with non-specific symptoms and signs. It progresses insidiously and leads to permanent neurological dysfunction. Decompressive surgery can halt disease progression, however significant delays in diagnosis result in increased disability and limit recovery. The nature of early DCM symptoms is unknown, moreover it has been suggested incomplete examination contributes to missed diagnosis. This study examines how DCM is currently assessed, if assessment differs between stages of healthcare, and whether this influences patient management. STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study. METHODS: Cervical MRI scans (N = 1123) at a tertiary neurosciences center, over a single year, were screened for patients with DCM (N = 43). Signs, symptoms, and disease severity of DCM were extracted from patient records. Patients were considered at 3 phases of clinical assessment: primary care, secondary care, and surgical assessment. RESULTS: Upper limb paraesthesia and urinary dysfunction were consistently the most and least prevalent symptoms respectively. Differences between assessing clinicians were present in the reporting of: limb pain (p<0.005), objective limb weakness (p = 0.01), hyperreflexia (p<0.005), Hoffmann reflex (p<0.005), extensor plantar reflex (p = 0.007), and lower limb spasticity (p<0.005). Pathological reflexes were least frequently assessed by primary care doctors. CONCLUSION: DCM assessment varies significantly between assessors. Reporting of key features of DCM is especially low in primary care. Incomplete assessment may hinder early diagnosis and referral to spinal surgery.
Cervical Vertebrae, Humans, Spinal Cord Compression, Neurodegenerative Diseases, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Treatment Outcome, Cohort Studies, Neurosurgery, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Middle Aged, Infant, Newborn, Female, Male, Young Adult, Specialization, Delayed Diagnosis
Department of Health (via National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)) (CS-2015-15-023)
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0207709
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/287481
Attribution 4.0 International
Licence URL: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/