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Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2018 Apr;167:36-42. doi: 10.1016/j.clineuro.2018.02.010. Epub 2018 Feb 7.

The surgical management of dysphagia secondary to diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis.

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University College London, London, United Kingdom.
Dept. of Neurosurgery, The National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery, London, United Kingdom. Electronic address:
Dept. of Neurosurgery, The National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery, London, United Kingdom.



This study reviews the management pathway and surgical outcomes of patients referred to and operated on at a tertiary neurosurgical centre, for dysphagia associated with anterolateral cervical hyperostosis (ACH) in diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH).


Electronic patient records for 6 patients who had undergone anterior cervical osteophytectomy for dysphagia secondary to ACH were reviewed. ACH diagnosis was made by an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist and patients were referred to a neurosurgical-led multidisciplinary team (MDT) for review. A senior radiologist performed imaging measurements and vertebral level localization was confirmed via barium-swallow video-fluoroscopy. Speech and language therapists (SLTs) determined the suitability of pre-operative conservative management. Patients were followed-up post-operatively with clinical and radiological assessments.


6 patients (Male to female ratio, 6:0; mean age, 59 years) were referred to a tertiary neurosurgical centre with DISH related dysphagia, an average of 25 months after ENT review (range, 14-36 months) between 2005 and 2016. The vertebral levels implicated in dysphagia ranged from C2 to T1 with a median of 4 vertebral levels involved. The most frequently affected vertebral levels were C4-6 (all 6 patients). The average antero-posterior height (as measured on axial images) of the most prominent osteophyte was 15.9 mm (range 12.0-20.0 mm). Patients underwent elective cervical osteophytectomy on average 10.8 months after neurosurgical review (range, 3-36 months). One patient had a post-operative haematoma needing evacuation and prolonged hospital stay. The average duration of follow-up was 42.3 months. All our patients maintained good symptomatic resolution without osteophyte recurrence.


All our patients experienced significant and sustained clinical improvement. Anterior cervical osteophytectomy consistently leads to improvement in symptomatic ACH patients without recurrence. Early referral to a neurosurgical multi-disciplinary team (MDT) is indicated in ACH related dysphagia, once conservative management has failed.


Anterior cervical osteophytectomy; Anterolateral cervical hyperostosis (ACH); Diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH); Dysphagia; Dysphonia

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