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Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2000 Mar 15;25(6):677-82.

Increased signal intensity of the spinal cord on magnetic resonance images in cervical compressive myelopathy. Does it predict the outcome of conservative treatment?

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, School of Medicine, Keio University, Tokyo, Japan.



Correlation between a lesion of the spinal cord that elicits increased signal intensity (ISI) on magnetic resonance images (MRIs) and the outcome of conservative treatment for cervical compressive myelopathy was retrospectively investigated.


To investigate whether ISI could predict the outcome of conservative treatment for cervical compressive myelopathy.


It is unknown whether ISI is related to the outcome of conservative treatment for cervical compressive myelopathy.


Fifty-two patients with mild cervical myelopathy underwent conservative treatment with a cervical brace. The compressive lesions were spondylosis in 29 patients, disc herniation in 12, and an ossification of the longitudinal ligament in 11. They also underwent MRI (1.5 T), and ISI was evaluated on T2-weighted sagittal and axial images. The ISI areas were classified as focal or multisegmental. Thirty-nine patients underwent follow-up MRI after a mean interval of 2 years, 4 months. The transverse area of the spinal cord was also measured on T2-weighted axial images. The outcome of conservative treatment was assessed using the Japanese Orthopedic Association Score (JOA score). Patients showing either an improvement in the JOA score or with a JOA score of 15 or more were considered to have a satisfactory outcome.


The average JOA score was 14.0 +/- 1.4 (range, 10-16) before conservative treatment and 14.4 +/- 1.9 (range, 10-17) at follow-up. The average gain in the JOA score was 0.4 points +/- 1.9 (range, -5 to +6). The outcome was satisfactory in 36 patients (69%). An area of ISI was observed in 34 patients (65%) before treatment (24 focal and 10 multisegmental). A satisfactory outcome was obtained in 78% of the patients without ISI, in 63% of those with focal ISI, and in 70% of those with multisegmental ISI. No statistically significant difference was seen among these three groups in the percentages of patients with satisfactory outcome, JOA scores before and after treatment or transverse spinal cord area. Of the 39 patients who were re-examined by MRI, 28 showed an area of ISI. The ISI regressed in five patients (18%). Satisfactory outcome was obtained in all 5 patients with regression of ISI, in 16 (70%) of the 23 patients without regression of ISI, and in 10 (91%) of the 11 patients without ISI apparent on the the first images (difference, not significant).


Increased signal intensity was not related to a poor outcome of conservative treatment or severity of myelopathy in the patients with mild cervical myelopathy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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