The discrepancy between functional outcome and self-reported health status after surgery for degenerative cervical myelopathy

Lindsay A. Tetreault, Mary P. Zhu, Rachel M. Howard, Fatimah Sorefan-Mangou, Alpesh A. Patel, Gregory D. Schroeder, Eric M. Massicotte, Jetan H. Bhadiwala, Michael G. Fehlings, Jefferson R. Wilson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


INTRODUCTION: Surgery for degenerative cervical myelopathy has shown not only to halt neurologic deterioration, but also to improve functional impairments. Despite these improvements, some patients may be dissatisfied with their outcomes. This study aims to (1) investigate discrepancies between postoperative clinical measures and self-reported health status, and (2) identify important predictors of such discrepancies. METHODS: Four hundred and seventy-nine surgical patients were prospectively enrolled in the CSM-International study at 16 global sites. At 1-year post-op, patients rated their general health status compared with their immediate preoperative status (much better, somewhat better, the same, somewhat worse, much worse). Descriptive analyses were conducted to evaluate the agreement between achieving a clinically important improvement (MCID) in function (modified Japanese Orthopedic Association [mJOA] scale) and self-reported health status. Agreement was defined as achieving the MCID on the mJOA and reporting general health as somewhat better or much better, whereas disagreement was defined as achieving MCID on the mJOA and reporting general health as the same, somewhat worse or much worse. Logistic regression analysis was used to determine factors that influence agreement between self-report of health status and functional outcomes. RESULTS: A total of 395 patients had complete follow-up data at 1-year and were included in this analysis. Based on patient self-reports, 56 (14.2%) were somewhat or much worse than a year ago, 80 (20.2%) patients were the same and 259 (65.6%) patients were somewhat or much better. Thirty percent of patients who reported being somewhat or much worse were found to achieve the MCID on the mJOA; 57.5% of patients who indicated their health status were the same as before surgery also exhibited clinically meaningful improvements in functional impairment. Based on multivariate analysis, there was an increased odds of observing an agreement between self-reports of health status and functional outcomes if the patient exhibited greater improvement in mJOA upper extremity motor function at 1-year (odds ratio [OR]: 1.41, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.03–1.93, p=.033) and reduced odds of agreement with increased age (OR for every decade: 0.66, 95% CI 0.50–0.87, p=.0035) and increased bodily pain at 1-year (OR: 0.62, 95% CI 0.49–078, p<.0001). CONCLUSIONS: There was a discrepancy between changes in mJOA and self-reports of health status in patients undergoing surgery for degenerative cervical myelopathy. Increased bodily pain at 1-year, smaller improvements in postoperative upper extremity score and increased age were associated with worsened or unchanged general health status, despite clinically significant improvements in overall postoperative function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1809-1815
Number of pages7
JournalSpine Journal
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2019


  • Degenerative cervical myelopathy
  • Modified Japanese Orthopedic Association score
  • Outcomes
  • Self-reported health status
  • Surgery
  • prediction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology

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