Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

The pathophysiology of degenerative cervical myelopathy and the physiology of recovery following decompression

Akter, Farhana, Yu, Xinming, Qin, Xingping, Yao, Shun, Nikrouz, Parisa, Syed, Yasir ORCID: and Kotter, Mark 2020. The pathophysiology of degenerative cervical myelopathy and the physiology of recovery following decompression. Frontiers in Neuroscience 14 , 138. 10.3389/fnins.2020.00138

[thumbnail of fnins-14-00138.pdf]
PDF - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (923kB) | Preview


Background: Degenerative cervical myelopathy (DCM), also known as cervical spondylotic myelopathy is the leading cause of spinal cord compression in adults. The mainstay of treatment is surgical decompression, which leads to partial recovery of symptoms, however, long term prognosis of the condition remains poor. Despite advances in treatment methods, the underlying pathobiology is not well-known. A better understanding of the disease is therefore required for the development of treatments to improve outcomes following surgery. Objective: To systematically evaluate the pathophysiology of DCM and the mechanism underlying recovery following decompression. Methods: A total of 13,808 published articles were identified in our systematic search of electronic databases (PUBMED, WEB OF SCIENCE). A total of 51 studies investigating the secondary injury mechanisms of DCM or physiology of recovery in animal models of disease underwent comprehensive review. Results: Forty-seven studies addressed the pathophysiology of DCM. Majority of the studies demonstrated evidence of neuronal loss following spinal cord compression. A number of studies provided further details of structural changes in neurons such as myelin damage and axon degeneration. The mechanisms of injury to cells included direct apoptosis and increased inflammation. Only four papers investigated the pathobiological changes that occur in spinal cords following decompression. One study demonstrated evidence of axonal plasticity following decompressive surgery. Another study demonstrated ischaemic-reperfusion injury following decompression, however this phenomenon was worse when decompression was delayed. Conclusions: In preclinical studies, the pathophysiology of DCM has been poorly studied and a number of questions remain unanswered. The physiological changes seen in the decompressed spinal cord has not been widely investigated and it is paramount that researchers investigate the decompressed spinal cord further to enable the development of therapeutic tools, to enhance recovery following surgery.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute (NMHRI)
Additional Information: Corrigendum published for this article, accessible at
Publisher: Frontiers Media
ISSN: 1662-4548
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 8 June 2020
Date of Acceptance: 21 May 2020
Last Modified: 02 May 2023 22:51

Citation Data

Cited 33 times in Scopus. View in Scopus. Powered By Scopus® Data

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics