Palsy Complications Low for Cervical Spine Surgery

In study, only 42 of 630 patients developed C5 nerve palsy after cervical spine surgery

FRIDAY, Feb. 3 (HealthDay News) -- The incidence of postoperative C5 nerve palsy, a well-known complication in cervical spine surgery, is very low, according to research published in the Feb. 1 issue of Spine.

Ahmad Nassr, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues analyzed 630 consecutive multilevel cervical spine decompression procedures performed by the same surgeon to determine the incidence of C5 nerve palsy. C5 nerve palsy was defined as a loss of motor strength in either the deltoid or biceps brachii, or sensory deficit or increased pain in the C5 distribution -- all as compared to preoperative status.

The researchers observed a 6.7 percent overall incidence of C5 palsy, and males had a higher rate than females (8.6 percent of 338 males versus 4.5 percent of 292 females). Incidence rates for the different procedures were 9.5, 8.4, and 4.8 percent for posterior laminectomy and fusion, corpectomy with posterior fusion, and laminoplasty, respectively.

"There is no statistically significant difference in incidence of C5 palsy based on surgical procedure, although there was a trend toward higher rates with laminectomy and fusion," the authors write.

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