Background In general, older patients with degenerative cervical myelopathy (DCM) are felt to have lower recovery potential following surgery due to increased degenerative pathology, comorbidities, reduced physiological reserves and age-related changes to the spinal cord. This study aims to determine whether age truly is an independent predictor of surgical outcome and to provide evidence to guide practice and decisionmaking. Methods A total of 479 patients with DCM were prospectively enrolled in the CSM-International study at 16 centres. Our sample was divided into a younger group (<65 years) and an elderly (≥65 years) group. A mixed model analytic approach was used to evaluate differences in the modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association (mJOA), Nurick, Short Form-36 (SF-36) and Neck Disability Index (NDI) scores between groups. We first created an unadjusted model between age and surgical outcome and then developed two adjusted models that accounted for variations in (1) baseline characteristics and (2) both baseline and surgical factors. Results Of the 479 patients, 360 (75.16%) were <65 years and 119 (24.84%) were ≥65 years. Elderly patients had a worse preoperative health status (p<0.0001) and were functionally more severe (p<0.0001). The majority of younger patients (64.96%) underwent anterior surgery, whereas the preferred approach in the elderly group was posterior (58.62%, p<0.0001). Elderly patients had a greater number of decompressed levels than younger patients ( p<0.0001). At 24 months after surgery, younger patients achieved a higher postoperative mJOA (p<0.0001) and a lower Nurick score (p<0.0001) than elderly patients. After adjustments for patient and surgical characteristics, these differences in postoperative outcome scores decreased but remained significant. Conclusions Older age is an independent predictor of functional status in patients with DCM. However, patients over 65 with DCM still achieve functionally significant improvement after surgical decompression.
ASJC Scopus subject areas