C5 palsy after cervical Spine surgery: A multicenter retrospective review of 59 cases

Sara E. Thompson, Zachary A. Smith, Wellington K. Hsu, Ahmad Nassr, Thomas E. Mroz, David E. Fish, Jeffrey C. Wang, Michael G. Fehlings, Chadi A. Tannoury, Tony Tannoury, P. Justin Tortolani, Vincent C. Traynelis, Ziya Gokaslan, Alan S. Hilibrand, Robert E. Isaacs, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Dean Chou, Sheeraz A. Qureshi, Samuel K. Cho, Evan O. BairdRick C. Sasso, Paul M. Arnold, Zorica Buser, Mohamad Bydon, Michelle J. Clarke, Anthony F. De Giacomo, Adeeb Derakhshan, Bruce Jobse, Elizabeth L. Lord, Daniel Lubelski, Eric M. Massicotte, Michael P. Steinmetz, Gabriel A. Smith, Jonathan Pace, Mark Corriveau, Sungho Lee, Peter I. Cha, Dhananjay Chatterjee, Erica L. Gee, Erik N. Mayer, Owen J. McBride, Allison K. Roe, Marisa Y. Yanez, D. Alex Stroh, Khoi D. Than, K. Daniel Riew

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Study Design: A multicenter, retrospective review of C5 palsy after cervical spine surgery. Objective: Postoperative C5 palsy is a known complication of cervical decompressive spinal surgery. The goal of this study was to review the incidence, patient characteristics, and outcome of C5 palsy in patients undergoing cervical spine surgery. Methods: We conducted a multicenter, retrospective review of 13 946 patients across 21 centers who received cervical spine surgery (levels C2 to C7) between January 1, 2005, and December 31, 2011, inclusive. P values were calculated using 2-sample t test for continuous variables and χ2 tests or Fisher exact tests for categorical variables. Results: Of the 13 946 cases reviewed, 59 patients experienced a postoperative C5 palsy. The incidence rate across the 21 sites ranged from 0% to 2.5%. At most recent follow-up, 32 patients reported complete resolution of symptoms (54.2%), 15 had symptoms resolve with residual effects (25.4%), 10 patients did not recover (17.0%), and 2 were lost to follow-up (3.4%). Conclusion: C5 palsy occurred in all surgical approaches and across a variety of diagnoses. The majority of patients had full recovery or recovery with residual effects. This study represents the largest series of North American patients reviewed to date.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64S-70S
JournalGlobal Spine Journal
Issue number1_suppl
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2017


  • C5 palsy
  • cervical spine surgery
  • myelopathy
  • outcome
  • postoperative complication


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