What the team from Taiwan did, was to identify all patients with CSM, and then to look at who went on to have a SCI. They also compared between patients who had had surgery and those that had not.
They found an overall risk of developing SCI of 0.2% per year. That means for every 1000 patients with CSM, 2 each year will develop a SCI. Although not directly compared this would be considered greater than the risk of those in the general population.
The group also went on to consider risk factors. They found that Men, CSM patients with OPLL (ossification of a specific ligament in the spine) but more interestingly perhaps, those that had not undergone surgery, were more likely to develop a SCI. They estimated a two fold increase in risk.
This is interesting data, particularly given we know so little about what happens in the longterm for patients with CSM, either treated or not. Whilst a two fold increased risk remains a very small risk, SCI is a potentially life threatening injury and paralysis is common.
1. Li-Fu Chen et al. Risk of spinal cord injury in patients with cervical spondylotic myelopathy and ossification of posterior longitudinal ligament: a national cohort study. Neurosurg Focus 40 (6):E4, 2016
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