Pseudarthrosis in anterior cervical discectomy and fusion with a self-locking, stand-alone cage filled with hydroxyapatite

J Neurosurg Spine 33:717–726, 2020

The goal of this study was to evaluate the incidence of pseudarthrosis after the treatment of cervical degenerative disc disease (CDDD) with anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) in which self-locking, stand-alone intervertebral cages filled with hydroxyapatite were used.

METHODS The authors performed a retrospective cohort study of 49 patients who underwent 1- to 3-level ACDF with self-locking, stand-alone intervertebral cages without plates, with a minimum 2 years of follow-up. The following data were extracted from radiological and clinical charts: age, sex, time and type of pre- and postoperative signs and symptoms, pain status (visual analog scale [VAS]), functional status (Neck Disability Index [NDI]), history of smoking, bone quality (bone densitometry), and complications. Pseudarthrosis was diagnosed by a blinded neuroradiologist using CT scans. Clinical improvement was assessed using pre- and postoperative comparison of VAS and NDI scores. The Wilcoxon test for paired tests was used to evaluate statistical significance using a p value of < 0.05.

RESULTS Three patients (6%) developed symptomatic pseudarthrosis requiring reoperation, with only 1 patient showing clinical worsening due to pseudarthrosis, while the other 2 with pseudarthrosis had associated disc disease at an adjacent level. The rate of symptomatic pseudarthrosis according to the number of operated levels was 0% for 1 level, 8.7% (2/23 patients) for 2 levels, and 7.7% (1/13 patients) for 3 levels. The total pseudarthrosis rate (including both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients) was 16.4%. Considering the clinical outcomes, there was a significant improvement of 75.6% in neck pain and 95.7% in arm pain, as well as a 64.9% improvement in NDI scores. Complications were observed in 18.4% of patients, with adjacent-level degenerative disease being the most prevalent at 14.3%.

CONCLUSIONS ACDF with self-locking, stand-alone cages filled with a hydroxyapatite graft can be used for the surgical treatment of 1- to 3-level CDDD with clinical and radiological outcomes significantly improved after a minimum 2-year follow-up period. Comparative studies are necessary.