Single-centre study comparing surgically and conservatively treated patients with spinal cord herniation and review of the literature

Isabel C. Hostettler, Vicki M. Butenschoen, Bernhard Meyer, Sandro M. Krieg, Maria Wostrack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Introduction: Spinal cord herniation (SCH) is a rare cause of progressive myelopathy and Brown-Séquard-Syndrome. Research question: Evaluation of functional outcome after SCH treatment compared to conservatively treated patients. Material and methods: We retrospectively analysed functional outcome in SCH patients treated between 2009 and 2020. We conducted a systematic search using PubMed, MEDLINE and EMBASE to perform a pooled analysis in SCH patients. Results: Our hospital cohort included 17 patients of which 9 were treated surgically. Mean age was 51.9 years, 58.8% of the patients were female. In 4/9 patients (44.4%) the neurological state remained stable after surgery. Four patients improved (44.4%) and one deteriorated after surgery (11.1%). Conservatively treated patients had a higher deterioration rate on follow-up with 3/8 patients deteriorating (37.5%). In our pooled analysis, 109/145 (75.2%) of patients improved, 32/145 (22.1%) remained stable and 4/145 patients deteriorated (2.8%). Among the available data of nine cohorts, mean recovery rate measured by the JOA score was 36.6% (SD 14.4). In our pooled multivariable model lower preoperative JOA score was associated with worse functional outcome (OR 0.86, 95%CI 0.74–0.99, p ​= ​.04). Discussion and conclusion: Our data shows that patients who are treated surgically have a higher improvement rate and acceptable perioperative morbidity compared to conservatively treated patients. Lower preoperative JOA score decreases chances of improved functional outcome on follow-up. We therefore advocate early surgery for symptomatic patients. Wait and see appears outdated due to progressive impairment and decreased chances of recovery. However, it is still an option in asymptomatic incidental SCH patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100305
JournalBrain and Spine
StatePublished - Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Brown-Séquard-Syndrome
  • Functional outcome
  • Myelon herniation
  • Myelopathy
  • Spinal cord herniation
  • Surgery


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