Do Caucasians and East Asians have different outcomes following surgery for the treatment of degenerative cervical myelopathy?

Narihito Nagoshi, Lindsay A. Tetreault, Hiroaki Nakashima, Aria Nouri, Paul Arnold, Mehmet Zileli, Gamaliel Tan, Branko Kopjar, Michael G. Fehlings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Study Design. A prospective multicenter cohort study. Objective. The aim of this study was to compare outcomes of surgery for the treatment for degenerative cervical myelopathy (DCM) between Caucasians and East Asians. Summary of Background Data. Numerous studies have indicated that race can influence both disease prevalence and clinical prognosis in a variety of medical conditions; however, none have evaluated the impact of race on surgical outcomes in patients with DCM. Methods. Four hundred and seventy-nine patients with symptomatic DCM were enrolled in the prospective AOSpine CSMInternational study at 16 global sites. Preoperatively, and at each follow-up, patients were evaluated using the modified Japanese Orthopedic Association scale (mJOA), the Nurick score, the Neck Disability Index (NDI), and the Short- Form 36 (SF-36) Health Survey. A mixed-model analytic approach was used to evaluate differences in outcomes between races at 24 months postoperatively, while controlling for relevant baseline characteristics and surgical factors. Results. Three hundred and twenty-four (67.64%) patients were Caucasian and 106 (22.13%) were East Asian. There was no difference in the incidence of ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL) between the two races; however a greater percentage of Caucasians in India (46.15%) and Turkey (41.38%) displayed evidence of OPLL than Caucasians in other regions (P<0.001). The frequency of spondylosis was significantly higher in Caucasians (P<0.001). Caucasians had a longer duration of symptoms (27.33±34.47 months) than East Asians (23.11±35.68 months) (P<0.001), and a lower preoperative score on the SF-36 Physical Component Score (33.85±9.04) than East Asians (37.47±8.67) (P<0.001). At 24 months after surgery, there were no differences in functional status or QOL between East Asians and Caucasians, after adjusting for baseline characteristics, surgical preferences, and disease causation. Rates of perioperative complications were not significantly different between the races (P=0.261). Conclusion. Decompressive surgery for DCM results in comparable functional gains and is equally safe in Caucasians and East Asians.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1428-1435
Number of pages8
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 15 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Caucasians
  • East Asians
  • degenerative cervical myelopathy
  • ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL)
  • quality of life (QOL)
  • race
  • surgical outcome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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