Establishing Diagnostic Criteria for Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy [AO Spine RECODE-DCM Research Priority Number 3]

Bryn Hilton, Emma L. Gardner, Zhilin Jiang, Lindsay Tetreault, Jamie R.F. Wilson, Carl Moritz Zipser, K. Daniel Riew, James D. Guest, James S. Harrop, Michael G. Fehlings, Ricardo Rodrigues-Pinto, Vafa Rahimi-Movaghar, Bizhan Aarabi, Paul A. Koljonen, Mark R.N. Kotter, Benjamin M. Davies, Brian K. Kwon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Study Design: Narrative review. Objectives: To discuss the importance of establishing diagnostic criteria in Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy (DCM), including factors that must be taken into account and challenges that must be overcome in this process. Methods: Literature review summarising current evidence of establishing diagnostic criteria for DCM. Results: Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy (DCM) is characterised by a degenerative process of the cervical spine resulting in chronic spinal cord dysfunction and subsequent neurological disability. Diagnostic delays lead to progressive neurological decline with associated reduction in quality of life for patients. Surgical decompression may halt neurologic worsening and, in many cases, improves function. Therefore, making a prompt diagnosis of DCM in order to facilitate early surgical intervention is a clinical priority in DCM. Conclusion: There are often extensive delays in the diagnosis of DCM. Presently, no single set of diagnostic criteria exists for DCM, making it challenging for clinicians to make the diagnosis. Earlier diagnosis and subsequent specialist referral could lead to improved patient outcomes using existing treatment modalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55S-63S
JournalGlobal Spine Journal
Issue number1_suppl
StatePublished - Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • cervical
  • criteria
  • degenerative
  • diagnostic
  • myelopathy
  • spine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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