REsearch Objectives and COmmon Data Elements for Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy

AO Spine Research Objective and Common Data Elements for Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy (AO Spine RECODE-DCM) is an international, multi-stakeholder initiative to create a research toolkit that helps accelerate knowledge discovery and improve outcomes in DCM.

What is Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy?

Degenerative cervical myelopathy (DCM) is a condition where ‘wear and tear’ arthritis (‘degenerative’) affects the part of the spine in the neck (‘cervical’), causing structural changes that compress and damage the spinal cord (‘myelopathy’). DCM is also known as 'cervical spondylotic myelopathy' or 'cervical stenosis'.

DCM is a common disease, and the number one cause of spinal cord impairment globally, affecting as many as 2% of adults. Despite treatment, less than 5% of people with DCM will make a full recovery, while most people will have life-long disability and some of the lowest quality of life scores for long-term conditions. AO Spine RECODE-DCM, a multi-stakeholder initiative, aims to improve the lives of those affected by DCM, through shaping the way DCM research is carried out in the future.

The top 10 unanswered research questions for DCM were launched in May 2020 in "Defining the Knowledge Gaps to Accelerate Progress and Advance Outcomes in Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy".

AO Spine RECODE-DCM Ambassadors 

Selected leaders and experts are championing research priorities as part of the AO Spine RECODE-DCM Knowledge Translation and Implementation initiative. They raise awareness and understanding of DCM among clinicians, other health professionals, and the public, promote commitment from leading authorities worldwide and focus research on specific research priorities.

Find out how you can be a part of this global research initiate to make a difference to research and to people living with DCM.

Research toolkit


We have created a list of top ten unanswered research questions, ranked through the James Lind Alliance Priority Setting Partnership.

Data Elements

Our next goal is to create a standardized set of disease measurements that should be included in all DCM research.


Naming DCM

We will establish a consensus definition of DCM to inform international classifications, such as the International Classification of Diseases (ICD).

Our team

Meet the AO Spine RECODE-DCM steering committee members, global partners, and the management group. is a non-profit organisation founded to raise awareness of degenerative cervical myelopathy and support patients, carers and professionals who live and deal with it.


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