Background Context: Postoperative C5 palsy is a well-known complication of cervical decompression procedures. Studies have shown that posterior laminectomy and fusions confer the greatest risk of C5 palsy. Despite this, pharmacologic preventive measures remain unknown. We hypothesize that prophylactic perioperative dexamethasone (DEX) will decrease the rate of postoperative C5 palsy in patients undergoing a multilevel posterior cervical laminectomy and fusion. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to assess the safety and efficacy of prophylactic perioperative DEX in decreasing the rate of postoperative C5 palsy. Design: This is a retrospective, single-institution clinical study. Patient Sample: The patient population included all patients undergoing multilevel posterior cervical laminectomy and instrumented fusion procedures for myeloradiculopathy or myelopathy, who also received a course of perioperative dexamethasone. Surgeries occurred between 2012 and 2017 at a single tertiary care center by a single surgeon with at least 1 year of follow-up. Patients who underwent decompression procedures other than multilevel posterior cervical laminectomy and instrumented fusions; had trauma, fracture; underwent decompression not including C5-level, insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus; and had documented adverse reactions to steroids were excluded. Outcome Measures: Preoperative demographics and postoperative complications, including development of postoperative C5 palsy, were considered as outcome measures. Materials and Methods: A total of 189 consecutive patients who underwent multilevel posterior cervical laminectomy and instrumented fusion and received prophylactic perioperative DEX were reviewed. The rate of C5 palsy was investigated and compared with our historical control rate of C5 palsy before the institutional implementation of perioperative DEX. Demographics were reviewed, and risk factor stratification was analyzed. The safety of using DEX was investigated by examining postoperative complications. The clinical course of patients who developed C5 palsy was then reported. Results: Postoperative C5 palsy occurred in 5 of the 138 patients (3.6%) meeting the inclusion criteria. Patients receiving perioperative DEX had a significantly decreased rate of postoperative C5 palsy compared with those who did not (3.6% vs. 9.5%, p=.01). Age was the only risk factor that was significantly correlated with development of C5 palsy (72.71±7.76 vs. 61.07±10.59, p=.02). Infection, seroma, and wound complication rates were 2.8%, 2.17%, and 1.44%, respectively, in patients receiving prophylactic DEX. All five patients receiving DEX who developed C5 palsy recovered with no residual deficits at an average of 16.8 weeks postoperatively. Conclusions: Perioperative prophylactic DEX therapy is a safe and effective way to decrease the incidence of C5 palsies in patients who undergo multilevel posterior laminectomy and fusion for myeloradiculopathy or myelopathy.
- C5 palsy
- Cervical decompression
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Clinical Neurology