OBSERVED PATTERNS OF CERVICAL RADICULOPATHY: HOW OFTEN DO THEY DIFFER FROM A STANDARD, "NETTER-DIAGRAM" DISTRIBUTION?

Review written by Dr Tom Walters info

BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE

Traditionally, cervical radiculopathy is thought to produce symptoms in characteristic dermatomal and myotomal patterns associated with the involved cervical nerve root(s). If clinical testing matches findings found on imaging studies, the medical and/or rehabilitation provider can be more certain of the particular cervical level primarily involved in one's symptoms and how best to move forward with treatment. In clinical practice however, symptoms associated with nerve root involvement often do not perfectly match textbook dermatomes or myotomes.

A better understanding of symptom variability associated with cervical radiculopathy would be useful to both medical and rehabilitation providers working to help patients with this type of presentation. Unfortunately, the data in this area is limited. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine cervical radiculopathy patterns in a group of surgical patients who underwent single-level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF).

METHODS

Patients who presented with single-level cervical radiculopathy and underwent surgery between the years of 2001 and 2016 were identified. Cervical radiculopathy patterns observed in these patients were then compared with that of the standard textbook "Netter diagram" of dermatomal patterns.

RESULTS

The records for 239 patients met the inclusion criteria for the study. Following review, 129 (54%) cervical levels were found to follow the standard dermatomal pattern. In those patients that reported a non-standard pattern, statistical analysis demonstrated that symptoms differed

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