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We Choose to Call it 'Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy': Findings of AO Spine RECODE-DCM, an International and Multi-Stakeholder Partnership to Agree a Standard Unifying Term and Definition for a Disease. Global Spine J 2022 Jun 29:21925682221111780



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Scopus ID

2-s2.0-85133336136 (requires institutional sign-in at Scopus site)   5 Citations


STUDY DESIGN: Modified DELPHI Consensus Process.

OBJECTIVE: To agree a single unifying term and definition. Globally, cervical myelopathy caused by degenerative changes to the spine is known by over 11 different names. This inconsistency contributes to many clinical and research challenges, including a lack of awareness.

METHOD: AO Spine RECODE-DCM (Research objectives and Common Data Elements Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy). To determine the index term, a longlist of candidate terms and their rationale, was created using a literature review and interviews. This was shared with the community, to select their preferred terms (248 members (58%) including 149 (60%) surgeons, 45 (18%) other healthcare professionals and 54 (22%) People with DCM or their supporters) and finalized using a consensus meeting. To determine a definition, a medical definition framework was created using inductive thematic analysis of selected International Classification of Disease definitions. Separately, stakeholders submitted their suggested definition which also underwent inductive thematic analysis (317 members (76%), 190 (59%) surgeons, 62 (20%) other healthcare professionals and 72 (23%) persons living with DCM or their supporters). Using this definition framework, a working definition was created based on submitted content, and finalized using consensus meetings.

RESULTS: Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy was selected as the unifying term, defined in short, as a progressive spinal cord injury caused by narrowing of the cervical spinal canal.

CONCLUSION: A consistent term and definition can support education and research initiatives. This was selected using a structured and iterative methodology, which may serve as an exemplar for others in the future.

Author List

Davies BM, Khan DZ, Barzangi K, Ali A, Mowforth OD, Nouri A, Harrop JS, Aarabi B, Rahimi-Movaghar V, Kurpad SN, Guest JD, Tetreault L, Kwon BK, Boerger TF, Rodrigues-Pinto R, Furlan JC, Chen R, Zipser CM, Curt A, Milligan J, Kalsi-Rayn S, Sarewitz E, Sadler I, Widdop S, Fehlings MG, Kotter MRN


Shekar N. Kurpad MD, PhD Chair, Director, Professor in the Neurosurgery department at Medical College of Wisconsin