Nonunion Rates After Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion: Comparison of Polyetheretherketone vs Structural Allograft Implants

Neurosurgery 89:94–101, 2021

Although advances in implant materials, such as polyetheretherketone (PEEK), have been developed aimed to improve outcome after anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF), it is essential to confirm whether these changes translate into clinically important sustained benefits.

OBJECTIVE: To compare the radiographic and clinical outcomes of patients undergoing up to 3-level ACDF with PEEK vs structural allograft implants.

METHODS: In this cohort study, radiographic and symptomatic nonunion rates were compared in consecutive patients who underwent 1 to 3 level ACDF with allograft or PEEK implant. Prospectively collected clinical data and patient-reported outcome (PRO) scores were compared between the allograft and PEEK groups. Regression analysis was performed to determine the predictors of nonunion.

RESULTS: In total, 194 of 404 patients met the inclusion criteria (79% allograft vs 21% PEEK). Preoperative demographic variables were comparable between the 2 groups except for age. The rate of radiographic nonunion was higher with PEEK implants (39% vs 27%, P = .0035). However, a higher proportion of nonunion in the allograft cohort required posterior instrumentation (14% vs 3%, P = .039). Patients with multilevel procedures and PEEK implants had up to 5.8 times the risk of radiographic nonunion, whereas younger patients, active smokers, and multilevel procedures were at higher risk of symptomatic nonunion.

CONCLUSION: Along with implant material, factors such as younger age, active smoking status, and the number of operated levels were independent predictors of fusion failure. Given the impact of nonunion on PRO, perioperative optimization of modifiable factors and surgical planning are essential to ensure a successful outcome.

%d bloggers like this: