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1.  Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion Using a Stand-Alone Polyetheretherketone Cage Packed with Local Autobone : Assessment of Bone Fusion and Subsidence 
It remains debatable whether cervical spine fusion cages should be filled with any kind of bone or bone substitute. Cortical and subcortical bone from the anterior and posterior osteophytes of the segment could be used to fill the cage. The purposes of the present study are to evaluate the clinical outcomes and radiological outcomes including bone fusion and subsidence that occurred after anterior cervical discectomy and fusion using a stand-alone cage packed with local autobone graft.
Thirty-one patients who underwent anterior cervical fusion using a stand-alone polyetheretherketone (PEEK) cage packed with local autobone graft from July 2009 to december 2011 were enrolled in this study. Bone fusion was assessed by cervical plain radiographs and computed tomographic scan. Nonunion was evaluated according to the absence of bony bridge on computed tomographic scan. Subsidence was defined as a ≥2 mm decrease of the interbody height at the final follow-up compared to that measured at the immediate postoperative period.
Subsidence was observed in 7 patients (22.6%). Of 7 patients with subsidence greater 2 mm, nonunion was developed in 3. Three patients with subsidence greater 2 mm were related with endplate damage during intraoperative endplate preparation. Solid bone fusion was achieved in 28 out of 31 patients (90.3%).
With proper patient selection and careful endplate preparation, anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) using a stand-alone PEEK cage packed with local autobone graft could be a good alternative to the standard ACDF techniques with plating.
PMCID: PMC3836924  PMID: 24278646
Cage; Cervical spine; Discectomy; Local bone
2.  Subsidence of stand-alone cervical cages in anterior interbody fusion: warning 
European Spine Journal  2003;12(5):513-516.
Anterior cervical decompression and fusion with anterior plating of the cervical spine is a well-accepted treatment for cervical radiculopathy. Recently, to minimise the extent of surgery, anterior interbody fusion with cages has become more common. While there are numerous reports on the primary stabilising effects of the different cervical cages, little is known about the subsidence behaviour of such cages in vivo. We retrospectively reviewed eight patients with cervical radiculopathy operated upon with anterior discectomy and fusion with a stand-alone titanium cervical cage. During surgery, only the cartilage portion of the end plate was removed and the cages were filled with autologous cancellous bone graft from the iliac crest. To assess possible subsidence or migration, three different radiographic measurements in the sagittal plane were taken for each case, postoperatively and at the latest follow-up. Subsidence was defined as any change in at least one of our parameters of at least 3 mm. Follow-up time was 12–18 months (average 15 months). Five of the nine fused levels had radiological signs of cage subsidence. No posterior or anterior migration was observed. However, subsidence did not correlate with clinical symptoms in four of the five patients. The remaining patient with signs of subsidence, whose neck pain and neurologic symptoms had regressed in the early postoperative course, suffered recurrence of radiculopathy 6 months after the surgery. Her symptoms were explained by the subsidence of the cage and the subsequent foraminal stenosis observed on the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. At 15 months' follow-up, her cage was broken. Our preliminary results, so far limited in number, represent a serious warning to the proponents of stand-alone cervical cages
PMCID: PMC3468003  PMID: 12827473
Cervical radiculopathy; Cervical cage; Interbody fusion; Subsidence
3.  Late Results of Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion with Interbody Cages 
Asian Spine Journal  2013;7(1):34-38.
Study Design
Retrospective analysis.
To evaluate the effectiveness of anterior cervical discectomy with fusion for degenerative cervical disc disease.
Overview of Literature
Anterior spinal surgery originated in the mid-1950s and graft for fusion was also employed. Currently anterior cervical microdiscectomy and fusion with an intervertebral cage is a widely accepted procedure for treatment of cervical disc hernia. Artificial grafts and cages for fusion are preferred because of their lower morbidity, reduced operating time and acceptable fusion rate.
The study involved retrospective analysis and investigation of long-term results for 41 consecutive patients who had undergone anterior cervical discectomy and fusion with an intervertebral cage for cervical disc hernia. The angle of lordosis, segmental height and range of motion were evaluated preoperatively and postoperatively at 1 month and 2 years. The clinical outcome was assessed by the visual analog scale and Odom's criteria.
The angle of lordosis increased by 2.62° and the range of motion angle increased by 5.14° after the operation. The segmental height did not change. The visual analog scale and Odom's criteria scores decreased significantly after the operation.
Using a cage in anterior cervical discectomy prevents segmental collapse, so the segmental height and the angle of lordosis are preserved and newly-developed pain does not occur.
PMCID: PMC3596582  PMID: 23508467
Cervical vertebral fusion; Cervical lordosis; Outcome assesment; Range of motion; Polyetheretherketone cage
4.  Anterior cervical allograft arthrodesis and instrumentation: Multilevel interbody grafting or strut graft reconstruction 
European Spine Journal  1997;6(2):138-143.
This retrospective study evaluated a single surgeon's series of patients treated by multilevel cervical disc excision (two or three levels), allograft tricortical iliac crest arthrodesis, and anterior instrumentation. The objective of this retrospective study was to compare fusion success and clinical outcome between multilevel Smith-Robinson interbody grafting and tricortical iliac strut graft reconstruction, both supplemented with anterior instrumentation in the cervical spine. The incidence of nonunion for cervical discectomy and fusion varies widely depending on the number of disc levels involved, type of bone graft used, and whether the anterior grafting is supplemented with instrumentation. An alternative to multilevel interbody fusion is corpectomy and strut grafting, in which the incidence of nonunion has been reported to be 27% with autograft and 41% with allograft. Sixty-four consecutive patients who underwent allograft tricortical iliac crest reconstruction and anterior cervical plating were studied. The average follow-up was 39 months. There were 38 patients in the discectomy and interbody grafting group and 26 patients in the corpectomy and strut graft reconstruction group. Pseudoarthrosis occurred in 42% of the anterior cervical interbody fusion patients and 31% of the corpectomy patients. Nonunion in two-level interbody fusions occurred in 36% of the patients as compared to 10% for patients with one-level corpectomies; while 54% of patients with three-level interbody fusions and 44% of patients with two-level corpectomies were noted to have pseudoarthrosis. Higher percentages of nonunion were noted in multilevel interbody grafting than in corpectomy with strut grafting and when more vertebral levels were involved. These radiographic and clinical findings underscore the shortcomings of multilevel anterior cervical allograft reconstruction with plating. Corpectomy may be the preferred method when multiple disc levels are fused. In addition, anterior corpectomy affords decompression of significant osteophytes in a safer and quicker manner. In retrospective studies, there is a need for long-term follow-up before accurate statements can be made about the study population.
PMCID: PMC3454584  PMID: 9209883
Allograft fusions; Multilevel anterior cervical interbody fusion; Strut graft Anterior cervical plating
5.  Two-level contiguous cervical disc disease treated with peek cages packed with demineralized bone matrix: results of 3-year follow-up 
European Spine Journal  2009;18(2):238-243.
Interbody cages are widely used instruments for cervical fusion operations. Long-term follow-up studies are needed to clarify if these devices are dependable. In this prospective study, 79 patients (42 women and 37 men) with a mean age of 51 years operated between January 2000 and December 2005 for treatment of degenerative cervical disc disease and spondylosis associated with radiculopathy or myelopathy were evaluated. Patients underwent two-level contiguous anterior cervical discectomy and fusion operations with standard anterior Smith–Robinson approach. To achieve fusion PEEK cages packed with demineralized bone matrix mixed with autologous blood were used. Clinical outcome was evaluated with Odom’s criteria and results were evaluated as ‘excellent’, ‘good’, ‘fair’ and ‘poor’. Spinal curves, mobility and fusion status were assessed with anterior–posterior and lateral (neutral, flexion and extension) radiographs obtained before surgery and at 3, 12, 24 and 36 months postoperatively. The Ishihara curvature index (ICI) was used for spinal curve evaluation. Lateral dynamic (flexion and extension) radiographs at postoperative 12th month revealed the fusion status classified as 1A, 1B, 2A and 2B. The radiological outcomes were classified as ‘non-fusion’ when 2B healing was observed, and as ‘fusion’ when 1A, 1B or 2A healing was observed at the levels subjected to surgery. According to Odom’s criteria, clinical outcomes were classified as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ in 69 patients (success rate: 87.3%). Eight patients were graded as ‘fair’ and two as ‘poor’. Preoperative mean ICI was 10.4 ± 3.72 and postoperative mean ICI was 10.1 ± 3.14. The difference was statistically insignificant (P > 0.05); therefore, preoperative lordosis was said to be preserved at final follow-up. Final fusion rate (Types 1A, 1B, and 2A) was 91.7% (145/158 levels). Radiological imaging showed no cage failure or dislodgement and reoperation due to non-fusion was not needed.
PMCID: PMC2899340  PMID: 19130094
ACDF; Two-level cervical disc disease; Demineralized bone matrix; Long-term follow-up; PEEK cage
6.  Autograft versus interbody fusion cage without plate fixation in the cervical spine: a randomized clinical study using radiostereometry 
European Spine Journal  2007;16(8):1251-1256.
A primary object with a fusion cage is avoidance of graft collapse with subsequent subsidence and malalignment of the cervical spine that is observed after bone grafting alone. No randomized studies exist that demonstrate the difference between these two methods in terms of graft subsidence and angulation of the fused segment. The size of the study population was calculated to be 24 patients to reach a significant difference at the 95% CI level. Patients with one-level cervical radiculopathy scheduled for surgery were randomized to anterior discectomy and fusion (ACDF) with autograft or to fusion cage, both without plate fixation. Tantalum markers were inserted in the two adjacent vertebrae at the end of surgery. Radiostereometry was performed immediately postoperatively and at regular intervals for 2 years. Questionnaires were used to evaluate the clinical outcome and an unbiased observer graded the outcome after 2 years. No significant differences were found between the two methods after 2 years in regard of narrowing of the disc space (mean 1.7 and 1.4 mm, respectively) or deformation of the fused segment into flexion (mean 7.7° and 4.6°, respectively). Patients in the cage group had a significantly better clinical outcome. The findings of subsidence and flexion deformation of the fused segment after 2 years seem to be of no clinical importance after one-level cervical disc surgery. However, in multi-level surgery using the same methods, an additive effect of the deformations of the fused segments may affect the clinical outcome.
PMCID: PMC2200784  PMID: 17342510
Cervical discectomy; Fusion; Cage; Randomization; Radiostereometry
7.  Anterior cervical fusion with interbody cage containing β-tricalcium phosphate augmented with plate fixation: a prospective randomized study with 2-year follow-up 
European Spine Journal  2008;17(5):698-705.
A variety of bone graft substitutes, interbody cages, and anterior plates have been used in cervical interbody fusion, but no controlled study was conducted on the clinical performance of β-tricalcium phosphate (β-TCP) and the effect of supplemented anterior plate fixation. The objective of this prospective, randomized clinical study was to evaluate the effectiveness of implanting interbody fusion cage containing β-TCP for the treatment of cervical radiculopathy and/or myelopathy, and the fusion rates and outcomes in patients with or without randomly assigned plate fixation. Sixty-two patients with cervical radiculopathy and/or myelopathy due to soft disc herniation or spondylosis were treated with one- or two-level discectomy and fusion with interbody cages containing β-TCP. They were randomly assigned to receive supplemented anterior plate (n = 33) or not (n = 29). The patients were followed up for 2 years postoperatively. The radiological and clinical outcomes were assessed during a 2-year follow-up. The results showed that the fusion rate (75.0%) 3 months after surgery in patients treated without anterior cervical plating was significantly lower than that (97.9%) with plate fixation (P < 0.05), but successful bone fusion was achieved in all patients of both groups at 6-month follow-up assessment. Patients treated without anterior plate fixation had 11 of 52 (19.2%) cage subsidence at last follow-up. No difference (P > 0.05) was found regarding improvement in spinal curvature as well as neck and arm pain, and recovery rate of JOA score at all time intervals between the two groups. Based on the findings of this study, interbody fusion cage containing β-TCP following one- or two-level discectomy proved to be an effective treatment for cervical spondylotic radiculopathy and/or myelopathy. Supplemented anterior plate fixation can promote interbody fusion and prevent cage subsidence but do not improve the 2-year outcome when compared with those treated without anterior plate fixation.
PMCID: PMC2367424  PMID: 18301927
β-TCP; Bone graft substitutes; Cervical spine; Interbody fusion; Anterior cervical plating
8.  Single-level anterior cervical discectomy and interbody fusion using PEEK anatomical cervical cage and allograft bone 
In an effort to avoid the morbidity associated with autogenous bone graft harvesting, cervical cages in combination with allograft bone are used to achieve fusion. The goal of the current study was to assess the reliability and efficacy of anterior cervical discectomy and interbody fusion (ACDF) using a PEEK anatomical cervical cage in the treatment of patients affected by single-level cervical degenerative disease.
Methods and materials
Twenty-five patients affected by single-level cervical degenerative pathology between C4 and C7 were enrolled in this study. The clinical findings were assessed using the Neck Disability Index and the Visual Analog Scale. Surgical outcomes were rated according to Odom’s criteria at last follow-up. Fusion was graded as poor, average, good or excellent by assessing the radiographs. Cervical spine alignment was evaluated by sagittal segmental alignment and sagittal alignment of the whole cervical spine preoperatively, 6 months postoperatively and at the last follow-up.
Twenty-five patients underwent ACDF using a PEEK anatomical cervical cage. All patients had a minimum 2 years of follow-up. The operative levels were C4–C5 in 5 patients, C5–C6 in 12 patients and C6–C7 in 8 patients. Preoperatively, average NDI was 34, 13 at 6 months, and 10 at latest follow-up. The mean preoperative VAS was 7; the mean postoperative VAS at latest follow-up was 3. Good or excellent fusion was achieved in all patients within 10 months (mean 5 months). Preoperatively, average sagittal segmental alignment (SSA) was 0.2° and average sagittal alignment of the cervical spine (SACS) 15.8°. Six months after surgery, average SSA was 1.8° and average SACS 20.9°, and at last follow-up, average SSA was 1.6° and average SACS 18.5°.
Anterior cervical discectomy and interbody fusion using PEEK anatomical cervical cages can be considered a safe and effective technique to cure cervical disc herniation with intractable pain or neural deficit in cases where conservative treatment failed.
PMCID: PMC3225633  PMID: 22089645
ACDF; PEEK cage; Allograft bone
9.  Outcome of single level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion using nano-hydroxyapatite/polyamide-66 cage 
Indian Journal of Orthopaedics  2014;48(2):152-157.
Cages have been widely used for the anterior reconstruction and fusion of cervical spine. Nonmetal cages have become popular due to prominent stress shielding and high rate of subsidence of metallic cages. This study aims to assess fusion with n-HA/PA66 cage following one level anterior cervical discectomy.
Materials and Methods:
Forty seven consecutive patients with radiculopathy or myelopathy underwent single level ACDF using n-HA/PA66 cage. We measured the segmental lordosis and intervertebral disc height on preoperative radiographs and then calculated the loss of segmental lordosis correction and cage subsidence over followup. Fusion status was evaluated on CT scans. Odom criteria, Japanese Orthopedic Association (JOA) and Visual Analog Pain Scales (VAS) scores were used to assess the clinical results. Statistically quantitative data were analyzed while Categorical data by χ2 test.
Mean correction of segmental lordosis from surgery was 6.9 ± 3.0° with a mean loss of correction of 1.7 ± 1.9°. Mean cage subsidence was 1.2 ± 0.6 mm and the rate of cage subsidence (>2 mm) was 2%. The rate of fusion success was 100%. No significant difference was found on clinical or radiographic outcomes between the patients (n=27) who were fused by n-HA/PA66 cage with pure local bone and the ones (n=20) with hybrid bone (local bone associating with bone from iliac crest).
The n-HA/PA66 cage is a satisfactory reconstructing implant after anterior cervical discectomy, which can effectively promote bone graft fusion and prevent cage subsidence.
PMCID: PMC3977370  PMID: 24741136
Cervical spine; anterior fusion; discectomy; nano-hydroxyapatite/polyamide-66 cage
10.  In vivo experimental study of hat type cervical intervertebral fusion cage (HCIFC) 
International Orthopaedics  2010;34(8):1251-1259.
The purpose of this study was to compare the characteristics of interbody fusion achieved using the hat type cervical intervertebral fusion cage (HCIFC) with those of an autologous tricortical iliac crest graft, Harms cage and the carbon cage in a goat cervical spine model. Thirty-two goats underwent C3-4 discectomy and fusion. They were subdivided into four groups of eight goats each: group 1, autologous tricortical iliac crest bone graft; group 2, Harms cage filled with autologous iliac crest graft; group 3, carbon cage filled with autologous iliac bone; and group 4, HCIFC filled with autologous iliac graft. Radiography was performed pre- and postoperatively and after one, two, four, eight and 12 weeks. At the same time points, disc space height, intervertebral angle, and lordosis angle were measured. After 12 weeks, the goats were killed and fusion sites were harvested. Biomechanical testing was performed in flexion, extension, axial rotation, and lateral bending to determine the stiffness and range of motion. All cervical fusion specimens underwent histomorphological analyses. One week after operation, the disc space height (DSH), intervertebral angle (IVA) and lordosis angle (LA) of HCIFC and carbon cage were statistically greater than those of autologous iliac bone graft and Harms cage. Significantly higher values for DSH, IVA and LA were shown in cage-treated goats than in those that received bone graft over a 12-week period. The stiffness of Harms cage in axial rotation and lateral bending were statistically greater than that of other groups. Radiographic and histomorphological evaluation showed better fusion results in the cage groups than in the autologous bone group. HCIFC can provide a good intervertebral distractability and sufficient biomechanical stability for cervical fusion.
PMCID: PMC2989095  PMID: 20195596
11.  Polyetheretherketone (PEEK) cage filled with cancellous allograft in anterior cervical discectomy and fusion 
International Orthopaedics  2007;32(5):643-648.
From July 2004 to June 2005, 19 patients with 25 discs underwent anterior cervical discectomy and interbody fusion (ACDF) in which polyetheretherketone (PEEK) cages were filled with freeze-dried cancellous allograft bone. This kind of bone graft was made from femoral condyle that was harvested during total knee arthroplasty. Patient age at surgery was 52.9 (28–68) years. All patients were followed up at least 1 year. We measured the height of the disc and segmental sagittal angulation by pre-operative and post-operative radiographs. CT scan of the cervical spine at 1 year was used to evaluate fusion rates. Odom's criteria were used to assess the clinical outcome. All interbody disc spaces achieved successful union at 1-year follow-up. The use of a PEEK cage was found to increase the height of the disc immediately after surgery (5.0 mm pre-operatively, 7.3 mm immediately post-operatively). The final disc height was 6.2 mm, and the collapse of the disc height was 1.1 mm. The segmental lordosis also increased after surgery (2.0° pre-operatively, 6.6° immediately post-operatively), but the mean loss of lordosis correction was 3.3° at final follow-up. Seventy-four percent of patients (14/19) exhibited excellent/good clinical outcomes. Analysis of the results indicated the cancellous allograft bone-filled PEEK cage used in ACDF is a good choice for patients with cervical disc disease, and avoids the complications of harvesting iliac autograft.
PMCID: PMC2551716  PMID: 17639386
12.  Cage subsidence does not, but cervical lordosis improvement does affect the long-term results of anterior cervical fusion with stand-alone cage for degenerative cervical disc disease: a retrospective study 
European Spine Journal  2011;21(7):1374-1382.
Clinical outcomes of the stand-alone cage have been encouraging when used in anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF), but concerns remain regarding its complications, especially cage subsidence. This retrospective study was undertaken to investigate the long-term radiological and clinical outcomes of the stand-alone titanium cage and to evaluate the incidence of cage subsidence in relation to the clinical outcome in the surgical treatment of degenerative cervical disc disease.
A total of 57 consecutive patients (68 levels) who underwent ACDF using a titanium box cage for the treatment of cervical radiculopathy and/or myelopathy were reviewed for the radiological and clinical outcomes. They were followed for at least 5 years. Radiographs were obtained before and after surgery, 3 months postoperatively, and at the final follow-up to determine the presence of fusion and cage subsidence. The Cobb angle of C2–C7 and the vertebral bodies adjacent to the treated disc were measured to evaluate the cervical sagittal alignment and local lordosis. The disc height was measured as well. The clinical outcomes were evaluated using the Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) score for cervical myelopathy, before and after surgery, and at the final follow-up. The recovery rate of JOA score was also calculated. The Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) score of neck and radicular pain were evaluated as well. The fusion rate was 95.6% (65/68) 3 months after surgery.
Successful bone fusion was achieved in all patients at the final follow-up. Cage subsidence occurred in 13 cages (19.1%) at 3-month follow-up; however, there was no relation between fusion and cage subsidence. Cervical and local lordosis improved after surgery, with the improvement preserved at the final follow-up. The preoperative disc height of both subsidence and non-subsidence patients was similar; however, postoperative posterior disc height (PDH) of subsidence group was significantly greater than of non-subsidence group. Significant improvement of the JOA score was noted immediately after surgery and at the final follow-up. There was no significant difference of the recovery rate of JOA score between subsidence and non-subsidence groups. The recovery rate of JOA score was significantly related to the improvement of the C2–C7 Cobb angle. The VAS score regarding neck and radicular pain was significantly improved after surgery and at the final follow-up. There was no significant difference of the neck and radicular pain between both subsidence and non-subsidence groups.
The results suggest that the clinical and radiological outcomes of the stand-alone titanium box cage for the surgical treatment of one- or two-level degenerative cervical disc disease are satisfactory. Cage subsidence does not exert significant impact upon the long-term clinical outcome although it is common for the stand-alone cages. The cervical lordosis may be more important for the long-term clinical outcome than cage subsidence
PMCID: PMC3389116  PMID: 22205113
Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion; Stand-alone cage; Cervical spine; Complication; Subsidence; Cervical alignment
13.  Subsidence and Nonunion after Anterior Cervical Interbody Fusion Using a Stand-Alone Polyetheretherketone (PEEK) Cage 
Clinics in Orthopedic Surgery  2011;3(1):16-23.
The purposes of the present study are to evaluate the subsidence and nonunion that occurred after anterior cervical discectomy and fusion using a stand-alone intervertebral cage and to analyze the risk factors for the complications.
Thirty-eight patients (47 segments) who underwent anterior cervical fusion using a stand-alone polyetheretherketone (PEEK) cage and an autologous cancellous iliac bone graft from June 2003 to August 2008 were enrolled in this study. The anterior and posterior segmental heights and the distance from the anterior edge of the upper vertebra to the anterior margin of the cage were measured on the plain radiographs. Subsidence was defined as ≥ a 2 mm (minor) or 3 mm (major) decrease of the segmental height at the final follow-up compared to that measured at the immediate postoperative period. Nonunion was evaluated according to the instability being ≥ 2 mm in the interspinous distance on the flexion-extension lateral radiographs.
The anterior and posterior segmental heights decreased from the immediate postoperative period to the final follow-up at 1.33 ± 1.46 mm and 0.81 ± 1.27 mm, respectively. Subsidence ≥ 2 mm and 3 mm were observed in 12 segments (25.5%) and 7 segments (14.9%), respectively. Among the expected risk factors for subsidence, a smaller anteroposterior (AP) diameter (14 mm vs. 12 mm) of cages (p = 0.034; odds ratio [OR], 0.017) and larger intraoperative distraction (p = 0.041; OR, 3.988) had a significantly higher risk of subsidence. Intervertebral nonunion was observed in 7 segments (7/47, 14.9%). Compared with the union group, the nonunion group had a significantly higher ratio of two-level fusion to one-level fusions (p = 0.001).
Anterior cervical fusion using a stand-alone cage with a large AP diameter while preventing anterior intraoperative over-distraction will be helpful to prevent the subsidence of cages. Two-level cervical fusion might require more careful attention for avoiding nonunion.
PMCID: PMC3042165  PMID: 21369474
Anterior cervical fusion; PEEK cage; Subsidence; Nonunion
14.  Comparison of Fusion with Cage Alone and Plate Instrumentation in Two-Level Cervical Degenerative Disease 
This study assessed the efficacy of anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) with cage alone compared with ACDF with plate instrumentation for radiologic and clinical outcomes in two-level cervical degenerative disease.
Patients with cervical degenerative disc disease from September 2004 to December 2009 were assessed retrospectively. A total of 42 patients received all ACDF at two-level cervical lesion. Twenty-two patients who underwent ACDF with cage alone were compared with 20 patients who underwent ACDF with plate fixation in consideration of radiologic and clinical outcomes. Clinical outcomes were assessed using Robinson's criteria and posterior neck pain, arm pain described by a 10 point-visual analog scale. Fusion rate, subsidence, kyphotic angle, instrument failure and the degenerative changes in adjacent segments were examined during each follow-up examination.
VAS was checked during each follow-up and Robinson's criteria were compared in both groups. Both groups showed no significant difference. Fusion rates were 90.9% (20/22) in ACDF with the cage alone group, 95% (19/20) in ACDF with the plate fixation group (p = 0.966). Subsidence rates of ACDF with cage alone were 31.81% (7/22) and ACDF with plate fixation were 30% (6/20) (p = 0.928). Local and regional kyphotic angle difference showed no significant difference. At the final follow-up, adjacent level disease developed in 4.54% (1/22) of ACDF with cage alone and 10% (2/20) of ACDF with plate fixation (p = 0.654).
In two-level ACDF, ACDF with cage alone would be comparable with ACDF with plate fixation with regard to clinical outcome and radiologic result with no significant difference. We suggest that the routine use of plate and screw in 2-level surgery may not be beneficial.
PMCID: PMC2982913  PMID: 21113362
ACDF with cage alone; ACDF with plate fixation; Fusion rate; Subsidence; Adjacent level degeneration
15.  A prospective randomized study comparing a cervical carbon fiber cage to the Smith–Robinson technique with allograft and plating: up to 24 months follow-up 
European Spine Journal  2005;15(2):157-164.
Introduction: Intervertebral carbon fiber cages may reduce graft collapse and promote bony fusion. Their safety and efficacy in the cervical spine have been investigated; however, no study has compared the outcomes of anterior cervical decompression and placement of a carbon fiber cage with placement of allograft and plate. Methods: Forty consecutive patients who met inclusion criteria were enrolled and randomized to anterior cervical discectomy with carbon fiber cage alone (n=20) or with allograft with plating (n=20). Clinical and radiographic evaluations were performed at baseline and at 6 weeks, 3, 6, 12 and 24 months. Neck and arm pain as well as neck disability index (NDI) were assessed at every visit. The Short Form (SF)-36 was completed prior to operation and at 12-month intervals. Cervical radiographs were evaluated pre-op and at every follow-up for evidence of fusion and instability. Results: No significant difference was found between the two randomized groups with respect to pre-operative age (mean 50 years), sex, employment status, duration of pain or cervical levels affected. The mean follow-up period was 14 months (range, 6–26 months). The clinical pain and disability improvements were similar for both treatments. Post-operative donor site pain was only present in the cage group, but not of significant long-term disability. At up to 24 months, NDI scores were significantly improved in both groups when compared with baseline. At 12 and 24 months, all SF-36 questionnaire responses were also improved in both the treatment groups. However, there was no statistically significant difference in outcomes between the two groups at any time. The fusion rate was 100% in both groups by 12 and 24 months, without evidence of instability. There were no differences in complications between both groups. Conclusions: The outcomes after cervical decompression and placement of a carbon fiber cage appear to be similar to cervical decompression with allograft and plating by the Smith–Robinson technique.
PMCID: PMC3489408  PMID: 15980998
Anterior cervical plating; Arthrodesis; Carbon fiber cage; Interbody fusion
16.  Loss of Lordosis and Clinical Outcomes after Anterior Cervical Fusion with Dynamic Rotational Plates 
Yonsei Medical Journal  2013;54(3):726-731.
The cervical dynamic rotational plating system may induce bone graft subsidence, so it may cause loss of cervical lordosis. However there were few studies for alignments of cervical spines influencing the clinical results after using dynamic rotational plates. The purpose is to evaluate the effect of graft subsidence on cervical alignments due to the dynamic rotational cervical plates and correlating it with the clinical outcomes of patients undergoing anterior cervical fusion.
Materials and Methods
Thirty-three patients with disease or fracture underwent anterior cervical decompression and fusion using a dynamic rotational plate. The presence and extent of implant complications, graft subsidence, loss of lordosis were identified and Visual Analog Scale score (VAS score), Japanese Orthopaedic Association score (JOA score), clinical outcomes based on Odom's criteria were recorded.
Fusion was achieved without implant complications in all cases. The mean graft subsidence at 6 months after the surgery was 1.46 mm. The lordotic changes in local cervical angles were 5.85° which was obtained postoperatively. VAS score for radicular pain was improved by 5.19 and the JOA score was improved by 3. Clinical outcomes based on Odom's criteria showed sixteen excellent, ten good and two satisfactory results. There was no significant relationship between clinical outcomes and changes in the cervical angles.
Dynamic rotational anterior cervical plating provides comparable clinical outcomes to that of the reports of former static cervical platings. The loss of lordosis is related to the amount of graft settling but it is not related to the clinical outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3635616  PMID: 23549822
Cervical alignment; subsidence; cervical fusion; dynamic rotational cervical plates
17.  Comparison between anterior cervical discectomy fusion and cervical corpectomy fusion using titanium cages for reconstruction: analysis of outcome and long-term follow-up 
European Spine Journal  2009;18(5):654-662.
Retrospective comparative study of 80 consecutive patients treated with either anterior cervical discectomy fusion (ACDF) or anterior cervical corpectomy fusion (ACCF) for multi-level cervical spondylosis. To compare clinical outcome, fusion rates, and complications of anterior cervical reconstruction of multi-level ACDF and single-/multi-level ACCF performed using titanium mesh cages (TMCs) filled with autograft and anterior cervical plates (ACPs). Reconstruction of the cervical spine after discectomy or corpectomy with titanium cages filled with autograft has become an acceptable alternative to both allograft and autograft; however, there is no data comparing the outcome of multi-level ACDF and single-/multi-level ACCF using this reconstruction. We evaluated 80 consecutive patients who underwent surgery for the treatment of multi-level cervical spondylosis at our institution from 1998 to 2001. In this series, 42 patients underwent multi-level ACDF (Group 1) and 38 patients underwent ACCF (Group 2). Interbody TMCs and local autograft bone with ACPs were used in both procedures. Medical records were reviewed to assess outcome. Clinical outcome was measured by Odom’s criteria. Operative time and blood loss were noted. Radiographs were obtained at 6 and 12 weeks, 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years (if necessary). Early hardware failures and pseudarthroses were noted. Cervical sagittal curvature was measured by Ishihara’s index at 1 year. Group 1 had a mean age 46.2 years (range 35–60 years). Group 2 had a mean age 50.1 years (range 35–70 years).The operative time was significantly lower (P < 0.001) and blood loss significantly higher (P < 0.001) in Group 2 than in Group 1. At a minimum of 1 year follow up, patients in both groups had equivalent improvement in their clinical symptoms. The fusion rates for Group 1 were 97.6 and 92.1% for Group 2. The rates of early hardware failure were higher in Group 2 (2.6%) than in Group 1 (0%). The fusion rates for Group 1 were not significantly higher than Group 2 (P > 0.28). There was one patient in Group 1 and 2 patients in Group 2 with pseudarthroses. Complication rates in Group 2 were not significantly higher (P > 0.341). Cervical lordosis was well-maintained (80%) in both groups. Both multi-level ACDF and ACCF with anterior cervical reconstruction using TMC filled with autograft and ACP for treatment of multi-level cervical spondylosis have high fusion rates and good clinical outcome. However, there is a higher rate of early hardware failure and pseudarthroses after ACCF than ACDF. Hence, in the absence of specific pathology requiring removal of vertebral body, multi-level ACDF using interbody cages and autologous bone graft could result in lower morbidity.
PMCID: PMC3234010  PMID: 19214597
Cervical fusion; Cervical spondylosis; Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion; Anterior cervical corpectomy
18.  Plate augmentation in anterior cervical discectomy and fusion with cage for degenerative cervical spinal disorders 
European Spine Journal  2010;19(10):1677-1683.
Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) with cage alone (ACDF-C) is associated with a significant incidence of subsidence, local kyphosis, and migration. The use of concurrent plate augmentation may decrease the incidence of these complications while improving the fusion rate. The purpose of the study is to present our results with ACDF with cage and plate augmentation (ACDF-CPA) and to compare these results to previous reports of outcomes following ACDF-C. We evaluated the radiologic and clinical parameters of 83 patients (266 fusion sites) who had an ACDF-CPA between March 2002 and May 2006. Radiologic parameters included fusion rate, fusion time, fusion type, site of pseudoarthrosis and rate and degree of subsidence. Clinical parameters included complications and overall outcomes assessed with Robinson’s criteria; 79 of 83 patients showed bony fusion (95.1%) at last follow-up postoperatively, and there was no significant difference in fusion rate between the number of fusion levels. Type I (pseudoarthrosis) was noticed in 9 patients (12 fusion sites), type II in 14 (19 fusion sites), and type III in 60 (235 fusion sites). Five type I and all type II fusions converged into type III by the last follow-up; 76 of 83 patients (91.6%) experienced good clinical outcomes. Pseudoarthrosis occurred more commonly in more proximal locations, and the subsidence rate was significantly greater in two-level fusions when compared with single-level fusions (P = 0.046). There were four metal-related complications. Plate augmentation in one- or two-level anterior cervical fusions for degenerative cervical spine disorders may improve fusion rates and reduce subsidence and complication rates, resulting in improved clinical outcomes.
PMCID: PMC2989224  PMID: 20376680
Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion; Cage; Plate construct
19.  Full-endoscopic technique for anterior cervical discectomy and interbody fusion: 5-year follow-up results of 67 cases 
European Spine Journal  2010;20(6):899-904.
With minimally invasive technique becoming more popular, endoscopic operations such as arthroscopy or laparoscopy have become the standard of care in several other areas. In this study, we evaluated the 5-year follow-up outcomes of anterior cervical (Ahn et al. in Photomed Laser Surg 23:362–368, 2005) discectomy and interbody fusion (ACDF) performed via endoscopic approach. Sixty-seven patients who underwent anterior cervical discectomy and cage fusion performed using endoscopic technique were followed for at least 5 years. We reviewed the clinical and radiographic records of these patients. The postoperative radiographic measures accessed were the anterior intervertebral height (AIH) and the lordosis angle (LDA). Clinical outcomes were determined using the previously validated Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) and the pain visual analog scale (VAS). Patients included had a minimal follow-up period of 5 years and based on the outcomes criteria (JOA, VAS), 86.6% of patients reported excellent or good results. The AIH increased on average 18.7% of the original height (p < 0.01), and the LDA were more physiologic at final follow-up. Of the 67 cases, there was no segmental instability, and the bone fusion rate was 100%. One patient required revision open ACDF due to adjacent segment disc herniation 6 years postoperatively. There were no intraoperative complications, dysphasia or esophageal injury in this study group. It indicated endoscopic technique for ACDF can obtain satisfactory results in patients with cervical disc herniation, cervical myelopathy, or radiculopathy. Compared with a traditional approach, this technique may be associated with less morbidity while improving cosmesis and postoperative recovery. Prospective randomized control trials are needed to directly compare these two procedures.
PMCID: PMC3099162  PMID: 21153596
Cervical spine; Interbody fusion; Discectomy; Endoscopic microsurgery; Cage
20.  Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion Using a Double Cylindrical Cage versus an Anterior Cervical Plating System with Iliac Crest Autografts for the Treatment of Cervical Degenerative Disc Disease 
Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is often complicated by subsidence, pseudoarthrosis, kyphosis, and graft donor site morbidities. To decrease the occurrence of these complications, various types of cages have been developed. We designed this retrospective study to analyze and compare the efficacy and outcomes of ACDF using double cylindrical cages (DCC) (BK Medical, Seoul, Korea) versus an anterior cervical plating system with autogenous iliac crest grafts.
Forty-eight patients were treated with autograft and plating (plate group), and 48 with DCC group from October 2007 to October 2011. We analyzed construct length, cervical lordotic curvarture, the thickness of the prevertebral soft tissue, segmental instability, and clinical outcomes.
There were no significant differences between the two groups with regard to the decrease in construct length or cervical lodortic curvature at the 3-, 6-, and 12-month follow-ups. The prevertebral soft tissue was thinner in the DCC group than the plate group immediately after surgery and at the 3-, 6-, and 12-month follow-ups. The difference in interspinous distance on flexion-extension was shorter in the plate group than the DCC group at the 3- and 6-month follow-ups. However, there was no significant difference in this distance between the two groups at the 12-month follow-up.
A double cylindrical cage is a good alternative for fusion in patients with cervical degenerative diseases; the surgical method is relatively simple, allows good synostosis, has less associated prevertebral soft tissue swelling, and complications associated with autografting can be avoided.
PMCID: PMC3928342  PMID: 24570812
Cylindrical cage; ACDF; Subsidence; Fusion
21.  Factors affecting sagittal malalignment due to cage subsidence in standalone cage assisted anterior cervical fusion 
European Spine Journal  2007;16(9):1395-1400.
Fusion of cervical spine in kyphotic alignment has been proven to produce an acceleration of degenerative changes at adjacent levels. Stand-alone cages are reported to have a relatively high incidence of implant subsidence with secondary kyphotic deformity. This malalignment may theoretically lead to adjacent segment disease in the long term. The prospective study analysed possible risk factors leading to cage subsidence with resulting sagittal malalignment of cervical spine. Radiographic data of 100 consecutive patients with compressive radiculo-/myelopathy due to degenerative disc prolapse or osteophyte formation were prospectively collected in those who were treated by anterior cervical discectomy and implantation of single type interbody fusion cage. One hundred and forty four implants were inserted altogether at one or two levels as stand-alone cervical spacers without any bone graft or graft substitute. All patients underwent standard anterior cervical discectomy and the interbody implants were placed under fluoroscopy guidance. Plain radiographs were obtained on postoperative days one and three to verify position of the implant. Clinical and radiographic follow-up data were obtained at 6 weeks, 3 and 6 months and than annually in outpatient clinic. Radiographs were evaluated with respect to existing subsidence of implants. Subsidence was defined as more than 2 mm reduction in segmental height due to implant migration into the adjacent end-plates. Groups of subsided and non-subsided implants were statistically compared with respect to spacer distance to the anterior rim of vertebral body, spacer versus end-plate surface ratio, amount of bone removed from adjacent vertebral bodies during decompression and pre- versus immediate postoperative intervertebral space height ratio. There were 18 (18%) patients with 19 (13.2%) subsided cages in total. No patients experienced any symptoms. At 2 years, there was no radiographic evidence of accelerated adjacent segment degeneration. All cases of subsidence occurred at the anterior portion of the implant: 17 cases into the inferior vertebra, 1 into the superior and 1 into both vertebral bodies. In most cases, the process of implant settling started during the perioperative period and its progression did not exceed three postoperative months. There was an 8.7° average loss of segmental lordosis (measured by Cobb angle). Average distance of subsided intervertebral implants from anterior vertebral rim was found to be 2.59 mm, while that of non-subsided was only 0.82 mm (P < 0.001). Spacer versus end-plate surface ratio was significantly smaller in subsided implants (P < 0.001). Ratio of pre- and immediate postoperative height of the intervertebral space did not show significant difference between the two groups (i.e. subsided cages were not in overdistracted segments). Similarly, comparison of pre- and postoperative amount of bone mass in both adjacent vertebral bodies did not show a significant difference. Appropriate implant selection and placement appear to be the key factors influencing cage subsidence and secondary kyphotisation of box-shaped, stand-alone cages in anterior cervical discectomy and fusion. Mechanical support of the implant by cortical bone of the anterior osteophyte and maximal cage to end-plate surface ratio seem to be crucial in the prevention of postoperative loss of lordosis. Our results were not able to reflect the importance of end-plate integrity maintenance; the authors would, however, caution against mechanical end-plate damage. Intraoperative overdistraction was not shown to be a significant risk factor in this study. The significance of implant subsidence in acceleration of degenerative changes in adjacent segments remains to be evaluated during a longer follow-up.
PMCID: PMC2200763  PMID: 17221174
Cervical vertebrae surgery; Spinal fusion; Equipment failure analysis; Postoperative complications; Subsidence
22.  Clinical and radiological evaluation of Trabecular Metal and the Smith–Robinson technique in anterior cervical fusion for degenerative disease: a prospective, randomized, controlled study with 2-year follow-up 
European Spine Journal  2009;19(3):464-473.
A prospective, randomized, controlled study was carried out to compare the radiological and clinical outcomes after anterior cervical decompression and fusion (ACDF) with Trabecular Metal™ (TM) to the traditional Smith–Robinson (SR) procedure with autograft. The clinical results of cervical fusion with autograft from the iliac crest are typically satisfactory, but implications from the donor site are frequently reported. Alternative materials for cervical body interfusion have shown lower fusion rates. Trabecular Metal is a porous tantalum biomaterial with structure and mechanical properties similar to that of trabecular bone and with proven osteoconductivity. As much as 80 consecutive patients planned for ACDF were randomized for fusion with either TM or tricortical autograft from the iliac crest (SR) after discectomy and decompression. Digitized plain radiographic images of 78 (98%) patients were obtained preoperatively and at 2-year follow-up and were subsequently evaluated by two senior radiologists. Fusion/non-fusion was classified by visual evaluation of the A–P and lateral views in forced flexion/extension of the cervical spine and by measuring the mobility between the fused vertebrae. MRI of 20 TM cases at 2 years was successfully used to assess the decompression of the neural structures, but was not helpful in determining fusion/non-fusion. Pain intensity in the neck, arms and pelvis/hip were rated by patients on a visual analog scale (VAS) and neck function was rated using the Neck Disability Index (NDI) the day before surgery and 4, 12 and 24 months postoperatively. Follow-ups at 12 and 24 months were performed by an unbiased observer, when patients also assessed their global outcome. Fusion rate in the SR group was 92%, and in the TM group 69% (P < 0.05). The accuracy of the measurements was calculated to be 2.4°. Operating time was shorter for fusion with TM compared with autograft; mean times were 100 min (SD 18) and 123 min (SD 23), respectively (P = 0.001). The patients’ global assessments of their neck and arm symptoms 2 years postoperatively for the TM group were rated as 79% much better or better after fusion with TM and 75% using autograft. Pain scores and NDI scores were significantly improved in both groups when compared with baseline at all follow-ups, except for neck pain at 1 year for the TM group. There was no statistically significant difference in clinical outcomes between fusion techniques or between patients who appeared radiologically fused or non-fused. There was no difference in pelvic/hip pain between patients operated on with or without autograft. In our study, Trabecular Metal showed a lower fusion rate than the Smith–Robinson technique with autograft after single-level anterior cervical fusion without plating. There was no difference in clinical outcomes between the groups. The operative time was shorter with Trabecular Metal implants.
PMCID: PMC2899760  PMID: 19763634
Spinal fusion; Cervical vertebrae; Tantalum; Trabecular Metal; Randomized controlled trial
23.  Relevance of expandable titanium cage for the treatment of cervical spondylotic myelopathy 
European Spine Journal  2012;21(8):1545-1550.
In patients with cervical spondylotic myelopathy, ventral disease and loss of physiological cervical lordosis are indications for anterior approach. As bone graft and titanium cage present many drawbacks, expandable titanium cage has been recently introduced for this indication. The authors present the clinical and radiological outcomes in patients undergoing the placement of an expandable cage in the treatment of spondylotic myelopathy with straight or kyphotic cervical spine alignment.
This was a retrospective review of prospectively collected data. A total of 26 patients underwent cervical corpectomy and reconstruction using an expandable titanium cage and anterior plate between 2005 and 2008. Pain and functional disability were measured using VAS and mJOA preoperatively and at 3 months, 6 months, 1 year and 2 years. Kyphosis was measured using lateral radiographs at the same points of follow-up. Fusion was evaluated on flexion–extension radiographs at 2 years.
The mean VAS improved from 4.2 to 1.7 and the mean mJOA increased from 12.85 to 16.04 at 2 years postoperatively (p < 0.05). The mean kyphosis angle decreased from 17° to 2° at the last follow-up (p < 0.05). The fusion rate was 100 % at 2 years. Three complications were reported including a transient dysphagia, an epidural hematoma and an early hardware migration.
Expandable titanium cage is an effective device, which achieves good clinical and radiological outcomes at a minimum 2-year follow-up.
PMCID: PMC3535245  PMID: 22639300
Spondylotic myelopathy; Kyphosis; Expandable cage; Cervical spine
24.  Three- and four-level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion with a PEEK cage and plate construct 
European Spine Journal  2012;21(12):2492-2497.
Three- or four-level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion with autograft and plate fixation have demonstrated relatively good fusion rates and outcomes, but donor site morbidity and the limitations of autograft harvest remain problematic. The purpose of this study is to assess the radiographic and clinical outcomes of three- or four-level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion with a PEEK cage and plate construct.
This retrospective review included 43 consecutive patients who underwent three- or four-level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion with a PEEK cage and plate construct (three level: 39 cases, four level: 4 cases). The fusion rate, time to fusion, Cobb angle and disc height were assessed radiographically. Clinical outcomes were evaluated with the VAS, NDI, and SF36 scores. Complications were also recorded.
Solid fusion was achieved in all the patients, and mean time to fusion was 13.7 ± 5.1 weeks. The postoperative Cobb angle, lordotic angle, and disc height (5.6°, 10.5° and 3.15 mm, respectively) increased significantly compared to preoperative values (p = 0.038, p = 0.032, and p = 0.0004, respectively), and these improvements were maintained through final follow-up. The postoperative NDI (17.2), VAS (2.8), and SF36 (13.1) scores increased significantly compared to the preoperative scores (p = 0.026, p = 0.0007 and p = 0.041, respectively). Complications included three cases of respiratory difficulty, four cases of dysphagia and one case of hoarseness. There were no cases of donor site morbidity.
Three- or four-level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion with a PEEK cage, and plate construct provide good clinical and radiographic outcomes including high fusion rates, low complication rates, low donor site morbidity, and good maintenance of the lordotic angle and disc height in the treatment of multilevel cervical spondylosis.
PMCID: PMC3508232  PMID: 22842956
ACDF; PEEK cage; Three-level fusion; Four-level fusion
25.  Autologous versus allogenic bone grafts in instrumented anterior cervical discectomy and fusion: a prospective study with respect to bone union pattern 
European Spine Journal  2004;13(6):510-515.
The purpose of this prospective semi-randomised comparative study was to compare fusion rates, course of fusion, and occurrence of collapse and subsidence of autologous and allogenic bone grafts in instrumented anterior cervical fusion. The number of fused levels and the smoking status were investigated as potential factors influencing the bone-healing process. No similar prospective study on instrumented anterior cervical discectomy and fusion was found in the literature.
Seventy-nine consecutive patients were operated on using the Smith–Robinson technique with a single instrumentation system at one or two levels. Seventy-six cadaverous fibular bone grafts and 37 autologous iliac-crest bone grafts were inserted. All patients were followed up for at least 2 years.
The radiographs obtained during the follow-up were analysed, and showed no statistical difference in fusion and collapse rate between autografts and allografts. Allografts showed significantly longer time to union. No case of graft migration was observed. No difference was found between fusion and collapse rate with respect to the number of fused levels in general, but greater time to union was seen in two-level fusions. When one- and two-level subgroups were compared, there was no evidence of any significant difference in fusion or collapse rates between autografts and allografts, and the healing process took longer in allogenic grafts. Smoking status did not alter any of the fusion or collapse rates, or the course of bone fusion.
This study demonstrates that allografts are suitable substitutes for autografts in instrumented ACDF. Prolonged time to union observed in allogenic bone grafts does not seem to be an important factor in instrumented procedures. Two-level grafting does not imply a significantly lower fusion rate, but longer time to union can be expected than with single-level instrumented procedures in both allograft and autograft subgroups. Our relatively small number of patients may not have been sufficient to decipher significant differences between smokers and non-smokers in the rate or course of fusion as previously reported.
PMCID: PMC3476608  PMID: 15042453
Anterior cervical spine fusion; Internal fixation; Autologous bone graft; Allogenic bone graft; Cigarette smoking

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