Cervical spondylotic myelopathy is a rather complex name for one of the most common disorders in people ages 55 and older: age-related damage to the spinal cord in the neck. With age, heredity, overuse, misuse or lack of use, the cervical spine can develop arthritis and degeneration of the discs, bone spurs and thickening of the neck ligaments. These problems can create a narrowing of the space in the spinal canal, a condition called stenosis. This narrowing can crowd the fluid-filled space that protects the spinal cord from trauma, and constrict the sensitive fibers of the cervical spine.
Even though the affected fibers are in the neck, they transmit electrochemical signals down to the arms, hands and all the way into the legs. Once these fibers are compressed or damaged, a number of unpleasant and sometimes serious symptoms can result, including tingling, numbness, weakness and/or clumsiness of the hands, leg stiffness, poor balance, and neck pain. Some patients may experience urinary urgency or incontinence. Symptoms of cervical spondylotic myelopathy can be mild to severe, single or multiple, worsening or stable. Left untreated, they tend to progress over time and in some cases damage is permanent, so an accurate diagnosis is the first step in successful treatment.
Board Certified neurosurgeon, Dr. Antonio DiSclafani, of Ocala Neurosurgical Center is highly experienced in diagnosing, evaluating and treating cervical spondylotic myelopathy. Because the disease produces symptoms common to several others, Dr. DiSclafani’s familiarity with the disorder calls him to utilize the latest technologies to differentiate it from other conditions.
Among the tests Dr. DiSclafani uses to identify cervical spondylotic myelopathy are magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, an ionizing-radiation-free scan that provides excellent clarity of the cervical spinal cord and spinal canal, discs, ligaments and nerves. He also utilizes a highly specialized type of x-ray called post-myelography computed tomography, or myelo-CT, which, with the aid of a contrast agent injected into the fluid surrounding the spine, can reveal the presence of bone spurs, bulging discs and other causes of irritation or compression of the nerve fibers or the spinal cord itself.
Once a diagnosis has been made, Dr. DiSclafani outlines treatment options designed to relieve symptoms and limit further damage. Most commonly treatment will involve reducing the pressure on the nerves through decompression surgery, which comes in several varieties, the best of which varies from patient to patient, depending on the location and cause of the myelopathy. Dr. DiSclafani has performed many surgeries to treat cervical spondylotic myelopathy, including anterior cervical discectomy and fusion, anterior cervical corpectomy, cervical laminectomy and fusion, cervical laminectomy and cervical laminoplasty. Occasionally, Dr. DiSclafani combines procedures to provide the best outcome.
If you have symptoms of cervical spondylotic myelopathy, you owe it to yourself to discover the cause and ways to find relief and protect against further damage. The caring professionals of Ocala Neurosurgical Center are happy to discuss your situation with you. We invite you to give us a call.