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J Neurosurg Sci. 1998 Dec;42(4):203-11.

Myeloradicular damage in traumatic cervical disc herniation.

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Department of Neurosurgery, School of Medicine University of Naples Federico II, Italy.



The literature on pure traumatic disc herniation is now voluminous but diversity of opinion exists regarding frequency, pathogenesis and management of this type of lesion. As a further contribution to the solution of the question it is thus justified to report our series of cervical traumatic disc herniation.


During the period from January 1986 to December 1994, 41 patients (25 males and 16 females, between the ages of 24 and 51 years) with traumatic cervical disc herniations were operated on by anterior approach. Twenty-six (63.4%) patients presented with radicular syndrome, 3 (7.3%) with medullary symptoms and signs, and 12 (29.3%) with myeloradiculopathy. Disc herniation was at the C3/4 level in 4 (9.7%) cases, at the C4/5 level in 7 (17.1%) cases, at the C5/6 level in 24 (58.5%) cases, and at the C6/7 level in 8 (19.5%) cases. In 6 (40%) patients suffering from myelopathy (with or without radiculopathy) an area of high MR signal intensity was observed within the cervical cord on T2-weighted images; such area corresponded at the level of cord compression by disc and was not demonstrated on T1-weighted images. All patients underwent discectomy without bone grafting.


Among patients with radiculopathy, 27 (71%) experienced complete relief of preoperative symptomatology, and 11 (29%) minor pain and/or neurological deficits without interference with work activities. The myelopathy completely disappeared in 11 (73.3%) cases whereas remained unchanged in 3 (20%); 1 patient with myelopathy experienced amelioration of preoperative specific symptoms and signs.


The results of surgery for cervical radiculopathy due to traumatic disc herniation are satisfactory since 92 to 100% of the patients postoperatively regain prior activities, an observation we have confirmed with our own series. The results in cases of myelopathy are less satisfactory: although approximately 73% of our patients with myelopathy reported total relief of preoperative symptomatology, published reports indicate that a significant postoperative improvement is seen in 33 to 56% of patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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