The reporting of study and population characteristics in degenerative cervical myelopathy: A systematic review

04 Sep 2017

OBJECT: Degenerative cervical myelopathy [DCM] is a disabling and increasingly prevalent condition. Variable reporting in interventional trials of study design and sample characteristics limits the interpretation of pooled outcomes. This is pertinent in DCM where baseline characteristics are known to influence outcome. The present study aims to assess the reporting of the study design and baseline characteristics in DCM as the premise for the development of a standardised reporting set. METHODS: A systematic review of MEDLINE and EMBASE databases, registered with PROSPERO (CRD42015025497) was conducted in accordance with PRISMA guidelines. Full text articles in English, with >50 patients (prospective) or >200 patients (retrospective), reporting outcomes of DCM were deemed to be eligible. RESULTS: A total of 108 studies involving 23,876 patients, conducted world-wide, were identified. 33 (31%) specified a clear primary objective. Study populations often included radiculopathy (51, 47%) but excluded patients who had undergone previous surgery (42, 39%). Diagnositic criteria for myelopathy were often uncertain; MRI assessment was specified in only 67 (62%) of studies. Patient comorbidities were referenced by 37 (34%) studies. Symptom duration was reported by 46 (43%) studies. Multivariate analysis was used to control for baseline characteristics in 33 (31%) of studies. CONCLUSIONS: The reporting of study design and sample characteristics is variable. The development of a consensus minimum dataset for (CODE-DCM) will facilitate future research synthesis in the future.