BACKGROUND: Degenerative cervical myelopathy encompasses a group of conditions resulting in progressive spinal cord injury through static and dynamic compression. Although a constellation of changes can present on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the clinical significance of these findings remains a subject of controversy and discussion.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate the relationship between clinical presentation and quantitative MRI features in patients with degenerative cervical myelopathy.
METHODS: A secondary analysis of MRI and clinical data from 114 patients enrolled in a prospective, multicenter study was conducted. MRIs were assessed for maximum spinal cord compression (MSCC), maximum canal compromise (MCC), signal changes, and a signal change ratio (SCR). MRI features were compared between patients with and those without myelopathy symptoms with the use of t tests. Correlations between MRI features and duration of symptoms were assessed with the Spearman [rho].
RESULTS: Numb hands and Hoffmann sign were associated with greater MSCC (P < .05); broad-based, unstable gait, impairment of gait, and Hoffmann sign were associated with greater MCC (P < .05); and numb hands, Hoffmann sign, Babinski sign, lower limb spasticity, hyperreflexia, and T1 hypointensity were associated with greater SCR (P < .05). Patients with a T2 signal hyperintensity had greater MSCC and MCC (P < .001).
CONCLUSION: MSCC was associated with upper limb manifestations, and SCR was associated with upper limb, lower limb, and general neurological deficits. Hoffmann sign occurred more commonly in patients with a greater MSCC, MCC and SCR. The Lhermitte phenomenon presented more commonly in patients with a lower SCR and may be an early indicator of mild spinal cord involvement. Research to validate these findings is required.
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