A comparison of prolonged nonoperative management strategies in cervical stenosis patients: Successes versus failures

Mark A. Davison, Daniel T. Lilly, Cody M. Eldridge, Ravinderjit Singh, Carlos Bagley, Owoicho Adogwa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


A paucity of evidence exists regarding the optimal composition of conservative therapies to best treat patients diagnosed with cervical stenosis prior to consideration of surgery. The purpose of this study was to compare the nonoperative therapy utilization strategies in cervical stenosis patients successfully managed with conservative treatments versus those that failed medical management and opted for an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) surgery. Medical records from adult patients with a diagnosis of cervical stenosis from 2007 to 2017 were collected retrospectively from a large insurance database. Patients were divided into two cohorts: patients treated successfully with nonoperative therapies and patients that failed conservative management and opted for ACDF surgery. Nonoperative therapies utilized by the two cohorts were collected over a 2-year surveillance window. A total of 90,037 adult patients with cervical stenosis comprised the base population. There were 83,384 patients (92.6%) successfully treated with nonoperative therapies alone, while 6,653 patients (7.4%) ultimately failed conservative management and received an ACDF. Failure rates of non-operative therapies were higher in smokers (11.2%), patients receiving cervical epidural steroid injections (11.2%), and male patients (8.1%). A greater percentage of patients who failed conservative management utilized opioid medications (p < 0.001), muscle relaxants (p < 0.001), and CESIs (p < 0.001). The costs of treating patients that failed conservative management was double the amount of the successfully treated group (failed cohort: $1,215.73 per patient; successful cohort: $659.58 per patient). A logistic regression analysis demonstrated that male patients, smokers, opioid utilization, and obesity were independent predictors of conservative treatment failure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-71
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Neuroscience
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • Anterior cervical decompression and fusion
  • Cervical stenosis
  • Costs
  • Degenerative spine
  • Healthcare utilization
  • Nonoperative therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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