Background: The optimal surgical procedure for the treatment of cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) remains controversial because there are few comprehensive studies that have investigated the surgical methods. Therefore, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate evidence in the literature and to compare the surgical outcomes between anterior decompression with fusion (ADF) and laminoplasty, which are representative procedures for CSM. Methods: An extensive literature search was performed using PubMed, Embase, and the Cochrane Library to identify comparative studies of ADF and laminoplasty for CSM. The language was restricted to English, and the publication period was from January 2001 to July 2019. We only included studies of CSM and excluded studies that involved patients with ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament and treatments with posterior instrumented fusion. We extracted outcomes from the studies, such as preoperative and postoperative Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) scores, cervical alignment, surgical complications and reoperation rates. Then, a meta-analysis was performed on these surgical outcomes. Results: Nine studies were obtained, and the quality of the studies was acceptable. In the meta-analysis, the preoperative JOA score was similar between the ADF and laminoplasty groups. The postoperative JOA scores and neurological recovery rates were not different between the ADF and laminoplasty groups. ADF exhibited more favorable results than laminoplasty in terms of postoperative cervical alignment. In contrast, overall complications were more frequently observed in the ADF group than in the laminoplasty group, leading to higher rates of reoperation. However, postoperative neck pain was more frequently observed in the laminoplasty group than in the ADF group. Conclusions: This systematic review and meta-analysis showed both the merits and shortcomings of ADF and laminoplasty. ADF and laminoplasty showed similar results in terms of neurological recovery. Postoperative cervical lordosis was better preserved with ADF than with laminoplasty. However, ADF was associated with a higher incidence of surgical complications than laminoplasty.
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