The following is a summary of the “New Imaging Modalities for Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy” published in the December 2022 issue of Clinical Spine Surgery by Rajan et al.

When the spinal cord is compressed due to wear and tear on the body’s joints, disks, and ligaments, the outcome is degenerative cervical myelopathy (DCM). There may be a loss of feeling and decreased dexterity in the arms and hands, trouble with delicate manipulation, unsteadiness in walking and poor coordination, and even problems with urination and defecation. Degenerative cervical myelopathy is difficult to diagnose and estimate the severity of without a complete and accurate history, physical examination, and review of imaging results.

An overview of the current state of imaging modalities for DCM diagnoses and the trajectory of future research in spinal cord imaging is provided in this narrative review. While current imaging modalities, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and, to a lesser degree, radiography and computed tomography (CT), provide valuable information to aid in decision making, they are not optimal when used alone. Diffusion tensor imaging, magnetic resonance spectroscopy, functional magnetic resonance imaging, perfusion imaging, and positron emission tomography are only few of the cutting-edge imaging techniques now being researched in academic journals. 

These modern imaging techniques are used to assess the spinal cord’s biochemical and metabolic function, perfusion, intrinsic connectivity, and physical structure in patients with DCM. The use of these novel imaging modalities for the diagnosis, localization, surgical planning and management, and follow-up of patients with DCM is poised to transform future clinical practice, despite the fact that there are currently considerable limits to implementation.