C2 versus C3 or C4 as the upper instrumented vertebra for long-segment cervical fusions: a systematic review and meta-analysis

J Neurosurg Spine 40:265–273, 2024

Selecting C2 versus C3 or C4 (i.e., C3/C4) as the rostral anchoring level in long-segment cervical fusions is a common clinical conundrum. The data regarding proximal failure in long constructs of the cervical spine is scarce. The objective of this study was to systematically review the published literature and perform a meta-analysis of the incidence for proximal adjacent-segment disease (ASD) in the context of long cervical fusions and cervicothoracic fusions ending in C2 versus those ending in the subaxial spine (C3 or C4).

METHODS Using the PRISMA guidelines, the authors performed a search of the PubMed/MEDLINE, Embase/Ovid, and Cochrane Central databases to identify all full-text articles in the English-language literature with the following inclusion criteria: 1) studies including patients with the upper instrumented vertebra (UIV) at C2 versus C3/C4; 2) patients undergoing ≥ 3-level posterior cervical fusion; and 3) indication for surgery of degenerative disc disease, cervical spondylotic myelopathy, or cervical deformity. Studies that were not published in the English language, case reports, review articles, letters to the editor, and meeting abstracts were excluded. A meta-analysis was conducted using a fixed-effects model when I 2 values were below 70%. Conversely, when I 2 values were equal to or greater than 70%, a random-effects model was used. A funnel plot was used to assess the presence of publication bias.

RESULTS Seven studies consisting of 1215 patients were included in the meta-analysis. There were 403 (32.8%) patients in the C2 UIV group and 812 (67.2%) patients in the C3/C4 UIV group. When the 7 studies were analyzed, the overall rate of reoperation was comparable between the C2 (9.2%) and C3/C4 (9.4%) UIV groups (p = 0.93) but the rate of surgical ASD due to proximal pathology was 1.2% and 3%, respectively (OR 0.36, 95% CI 0.15–0.86; p = 0.02). When comparing between groups, no statistical difference was found regarding the rate of reoperation due to distal pathology or surgical infection.

CONCLUSIONS Long-segment cervical or cervicothoracic constructs that anchor into C2 may have similar complication rates but lower revision rates for proximal ASD than constructs that anchor into the subaxial spine.


Validation of age-adjusted pelvic incidence minus lumbar lordosis and lordosis distribution index for assessing adjacent-segment disease after short-level lumbar fusion surgery

J Neurosurg Spine 40:143–151, 2024

The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of sagittal alignment according to age-adjusted pelvic incidence minus lumbar lordosis (PI-LL) and lordosis distribution index (LDI) on the occurrence of adjacent-segment disease (ASD) after lumbar fusion surgery.

METHODS This study retrospectively reviewed 234 consecutive patients with lumbar degenerative diseases who underwent 1- or 2-level lumbar fusion surgery. Demographic and radiographic (preoperative and 3-month postoperative) data were collected and compared between ASD and non-ASD groups. Binary logistic regression analysis was performed to evaluate adjusted associations between potential variables and ASD development. A subanalysis was further conducted to assess their relationships in the range of different PI values.

RESULTS With a mean follow-up duration of 70.6 months (range 60–121 months), 118 patients (50.4%) were diagnosed as having cranial radiological ASD. Univariate analyses showed that older age, 2-level fusion, worse preoperative pelvic tilt and LL, lower pre- and postoperative LDI, and more improvement in sagittal vertical axis were significantly correlated with the occurrence of ASD. No significant differences in the PI-LL and age-adjusted PI-LL (offset) were detected between ASD and non-ASD groups. Multivariate analysis identified postoperative LDI (OR 0.971, 95% CI 0.953–0.989, p = 0.002); 2-level fusion (OR 3.477, 95% CI 1.964–6.157, p < 0.001); and improvement of sagittal vertical axis (OR 0.992, 95% CI 0.985–0.998, p = 0.039) as the independent variables for predicting the occurrence of ASD. When stratified by PI, LDI was identified as an independent risk factor in the groups with low and average PI. Lower segmental lordosis (OR 0.841, 95% CI 0.742–0.954, p = 0.007) could significantly increase the incidence of ASD in the patients with high LDI.

CONCLUSIONS Age-adjusted PI-LL may have limited ability to predict the development of ASD. LDI could exert an important effect on diagnosing the occurrence of ASD in the cases with low and average PI, but segmental lordosis was a more significant risk factor than LDI in individuals with high PI.

Risk Factors for Adjacent Segment Disease in Short Segment Lumbar Interbody Fusion

Operative Neurosurgery 25:136–141, 2023

Adjacent segment disease (ASD) is a common problem after lumbar spinal fusions. Ways to reduce the rates of ASD are highly sought after to reduce the need for reoperation.

OBJECTIVE: To find predisposing factors of ASD after lumbar interbody fusions, especially in mismatch of pelvic incidence and lumbar lordosis (PI-LL).

METHODS: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of all patients undergoing lumbar interbody fusions of less than 4 levels from June 2015 to July 2020 with at least 1 year of follow-up and in those who had obtained postoperative standing X-rays.

RESULTS: We found 243 patients who fit inclusion and exclusion criteria. Fourteen patients (5.8%) developed ASD, at a median of 24 months. Postoperative lumbar lordosis was significantly higher in the non-ASD cohort (median 46.4°± 1.4°vs 36.9°± 3.6°, P < .001), pelvic tilt was significantly lower in the non-ASD cohort (16.0°± 0.66°vs 20.3°± 2.4°, P = .002), PI-LL mismatch was significantly lower in the non-ASD cohort (5.28°± 1.0°vs 17.1°± 2.0°, P < .001), and age-appropriate PI-LL mismatch was less common in the non-ASD cohort (34 patients [14.8%] vs 13 [92.9%] of patients with high mismatch, P < .001). Using multivariate analysis, greater PI-LL mismatch was predictive of ASD (95% odds ratio CI = 1.393-2.458, P < .001) and age-appropriate PI-LL mismatch was predictive of ASD (95% odds ratio CI = 10.8-970.4, P < .001).

CONCLUSION: Higher PI-LL mismatch, both age-independent and when adjusted for age, after lumbar interbody fusion was predictive for developing ASD. In lumbar degenerative disease, correction of spinopelvic parameters should be a main goal of surgical correction.

Long-term results of the NECK trial—implanting a disc prosthesis after cervical anterior discectomy cannot prevent adjacent segment disease

The Spine Journal 23 (2023) 350−360

Motion preserving anterior cervical disc arthroplasty (ACDA) in patients with cervical radiculopathy was introduced to prevent symptomatic adjacent segment disease as compared to anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF).

PURPOSE: To evaluate the long-term outcome in patients with cervical radiculopathy due to a herniated disc undergoing ACDA, ACDF or ACD (no cage, no plate) in terms of clinical outcome measured by the Neck Disability Index (NDI). Likewise, clinically relevant adjacent segment disease is assessed as a long-term result.

STUDY DESIGN: Double-blinded randomized controlled trial.

PATIENT SAMPLE: A total of 109 patients with one level herniated disc were randomized to one of the following treatments: ACDA, ACDF with intervertebral cage, ACD without cage.

OUTCOME MEASURES: Clinical outcome was measured by patients’ self-reported NDI, Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) neck pain, VAS arm pain, SF36, EQ-5D, perceived recovery and reoperation rate. Radiological outcome was assessed by radiographic cervical curvature and adjacent segment degeneration (ASD) parameters at baseline and up until five years after surgery.

METHODS: To account for the correlation between repeated measurements of the same individual Generalized Estimated Equations (GEE) were used to calculate treatment effects, expressed in difference in marginal mean values for NDI per treatment group.

RESULTS: Clinical outcome parameters were comparable in the ACDA and ACDF group, but significantly worse in the ACD group, though not reaching clinical relevance. Annual reoperation rate was 3.6% in the first two years after surgery, declined to 1.9% in the years thereafter. The number of reoperations for ASD was not lower in the ACDA group, while the number of reoperations at the index level was higher after ACD, when compared to ACDF and ACDA.

CONCLUSIONS: A persisting absence of clinical superiority was demonstrated for the cervical disc prosthesis five years after surgery. Specifically, clinically relevant adjacent level disease was not prevented by implanting a prosthesis. Single level ACD without implanting an intervertebral device provided worse clinical outcome, which was hypothesized to be caused by delayed fusion. This stresses the need for focusing on timely fusion in future research.

Incidence of adjacent-segment surgery following stand-alone lateral lumbar interbody fusion

J Neurosurg Spine 35:270–274, 2021

Adjacent-segment disease (ASD) requiring operative intervention is a relatively common long-term consequence of lumbar fusion surgery. Although the incidence of ASD requiring reoperation is well described for traditional posterior lumbar approaches (2.5%–3.9% per year), it remains poorly characterized for stand-alone lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF). In this study, the authors report their institutional experience with ASD requiring reoperation after LLIF over an extended follow-up period of 4 years.

METHODS Medical records were reviewed for 276 consecutive patients who underwent stand-alone LLIF by a single surgeon for degenerative spinal disorders. Inclusion criteria (single-stage, stand-alone LLIF without posterior supplementation, with no prior lumbar instrumentation, and a minimum of 4 years of follow-up) were met by 182 patients, who were analyzed for operative ASD incidence (per-year rate), demographics, and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) score. Operative ASD was strictly defined as new-onset pathology following index surgery at directly adjacent levels to the prior construct. Operative, rather than symptomatic or radiographic, ASD was analyzed to provide a consistent and impactful endpoint while avoiding retrospective diagnosis.

RESULTS The study cohort of 182 patients had an operative ASD rate of 3.3% (n = 6 procedures) over 4 years of follow-up, for an incidence on Kaplan-Meier survival analysis of 0.88% (95% CI 0.67%–1.09%) per year. In comparing patients with operative ASD with those without, there were no significant differences in mean age (53.7 vs 56.2 years), male sex (33.3% vs 44.9%), smoking status (16.7% vs 25.0%), or number of levels fused (mean 1.33 vs 1.46). The operative ASD cohort had a greater mean BMI (37.3 vs 30.2, p < 0.01). Operative ASD patients had lower baseline ODI scores (33.8 vs 48.3, p = 0.02); however, no difference was observed in ODI at 6 weeks (34.0 vs 39.0) or 3 months (16.0 vs 32.8) postoperatively.

CONCLUSIONS The incidence of ASD in LLIF for degenerative lumbar etiologies in this cohort was 0.88% (95% CI 0.67%–1.09%) per year. Meanwhile, the reported reoperation rates for ASD in posterior spinal approaches was 2.5% to 3.9% per year, which implies that LLIF may be preferable for well-selected patients.

Prognostic Factors for Adjacent Segment Disease After L4-L5 Lumbar Fusion

Neurosurgery 86:835–842, 2020

Adjacent segment disease (ASD) is an important consideration during decision making for lumbar spinal fusion. OBJECTIVE: To identify risk factors for development of ASD after L4-L5 fusion and differences in incidence between rostral and caudal ASD.

METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed all consecutive patients at a single institution who underwent first-time spinal fusion at the L4-L5 level for degenerative spinal disease over a 10-yr period, using posterolateral pedicular screw fixation with or without posterior interbody fusion. ASD was defined as clinical and radiographic evidence of degenerative spinal disease requiring reoperation at the level rostral (L3-L4) or caudal (L5-S1) to the index fusion.

RESULTS: Among 131 identified patients, the incidence of ASD requiring reoperation was 25.2% (n = 33). Twenty-four cases (18.3% of the entire cohort) developed rostral ASD (segment L3-L4), 3 cases (2.3%) developed caudal (L5-S1), and 6 cases (4.6%) developed bilateral ASD (both rostral and caudal). Cumulatively, the incidence of caudal ASD was significantly lower than rostral ASD (P<.001). Following multivariate logistic regression for factors associated with ASD reoperation, decompression of segments outside the fusion construct was associated with higher ASD rates (odds ratio [OR] = 2.68, P = .039), as was female gender (OR = 3.55, P = .011), whereas older age was associated with lower ASD incidence (OR = 0.95, P = .011).

CONCLUSION: When considering posterior L4-L5 fusion, surgeons should refrain from prophylactic procedures in the L5-S1 level, without clinical indications, because ASD incidence on that segment is reassuringly low.

Topping-off technique for stabilization of lumbar degenerative instabilities in 322 patients

J Neurosurg Spine 32:366–372, 2020

Semi-rigid instrumentation (SRI) was introduced to take advantage of the concept of load sharing in surgery for spinal stabilization. The authors investigated a topping-off technique in which interbody fusion is not performed in the uppermost motion segment, thus creating a smooth transition from stabilized to free motion segments. SRI using the topping-off technique also reduces the motion of the adjacent segments, which may reduce the risk of adjacent segment disease (ASD), a frequently observed sequela of instrumentation and fusion, but this technique may also increase the possibility of screw loosening (SL). In the present study the authors aimed to systematically evaluate reoperation rates, clinical outcomes, and potential risk factors and incidences of ASD and SL for this novel approach.

METHODS The authors collected data for the first 322 patients enrolled at their institution from 2009 to 2015 who underwent surgery performed using the topping-off technique. Reoperation rates, patient satisfaction, and other outcome measures were evaluated. All patients underwent pedicle screw–based semi-rigid stabilization of the lumbar spine with a polyetheretherketone (PEEK) rod system.

RESULTS Implantation of PEEK rods during revision surgery was performed in 59.9% of patients. A median of 3 motion segments (range 1–5 segments) were included and a median of 2 motion segments (range 0–4 segments) were fused. A total of 89.4% of patients underwent fusion, 73.3% by transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF), 18.4% by anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF), 3.1% by extreme lateral interbody fusion (XLIF), 0.3% by oblique lumbar interbody fusion (OLIF), and 4.9% by combined approaches in the same surgery. Combined radicular and lumbar pain according to a visual analog scale was reduced from 7.9 ± 1.0 to 4.0 ± 3.1, with 56.2% of patients indicating benefit from surgery. After maximum follow-up (4.3 ± 1.8 years), the reoperation rate was 16.4%.

CONCLUSIONS The PEEK rod concept including the topping-off principle seems safe, with at least average patient satisfaction in this patient group. Considering the low rate of first-tier surgeries, the presented results seem at least comparable to those of most other series. Follow-up studies are needed to determine long-term outcomes, particularly with respect to ASD, which might be reduced by the presented approach.

Cervical disc arthroplasty with the Prestige LP disc versus anterior cervical discectomy and fusion, at 2 levels: results of a prospective, multicenter randomized controlled clinical trial at 24 months

J Neurosurg Spine 26:653–667, 2017

The authors compared the efficacy and safety of arthroplasty using the Prestige LP cervical disc with those of anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) for the treatment of degenerative disc disease (DDD) at 2 adjacent levels.

METHODS Patients from 30 investigational sites were randomized to 1 of 2 groups: investigational patients (209) underwent arthroplasty using a Prestige LP artificial disc, and control patients (188) underwent ACDF with a cortical ring allograft and anterior cervical plate. Patients were evaluated preoperatively, intraoperatively, and at 1.5, 3, 6, 12, and 24 months postoperatively. Efficacy and safety outcomes were measured according to the Neck Disability Index (NDI), Numeric Rating Scales for neck and arm pain, 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36), gait abnormality, disc height, range of motion (investigational) or fusion (control), adverse events (AEs), additional surgeries, and neurological status. Treatment was considered an overall success when all 4 of the following criteria were met: 1) NDI score improvement of ≥ 15 points over the preoperative score, 2) maintenance or improvement in neurological status compared with preoperatively, 3) no serious AE caused by the implant or by the implant and surgical procedure, and 4) no additional surgery (supplemental fixation, revision, or nonelective implant removal). Independent statisticians performed Bayesian statistical analyses.

RESULTS The 24-month rates of overall success were 81.4% for the investigational group and 69.4% for the control group. The posterior mean for overall success in the investigational group exceeded that in the control group by 0.112 (95% highest posterior density interval = 0.023 to 0.201) with a posterior probability of 1 for noninferiority and 0.993 for superiority, demonstrating the superiority of the investigational group for overall success. Noninferiority of the investigational group was demonstrated for all individual components of overall success and individual effectiveness end points, except for the SF-36 Mental Component Summary. The investigational group was superior to the control group for NDI success. The proportion of patients experiencing any AE was 93.3% (195/209) in the investigational group and 92.0% (173/188) in the control group, which were not statistically different. The rate of patients who reported any serious AE (Grade 3 or 4) was significantly higher in the control group (90 [47.9%] of 188) than in the investigational group (72 [34.4%] of 209) with a posterior probability of superiority of 0.996. Radiographic success was achieved in 51.0% (100/196) of the investigational patients (maintenance of motion without evidence of bridging bone) and 82.1% (119/145) of the control patients (fusion). At 24 months, heterotopic ossification was identified in 27.8% (55/198) of the superior levels and 36.4% (72/198) of the inferior levels of investigational patients.

CONCLUSIONS Arthroplasty with the Prestige LP cervical disc is as effective and safe as ACDF for the treatment of cervical DDD at 2 contiguous levels and is an alternative treatment for intractable radiculopathy or myelopathy at 2 adjacent levels.

Clinical trial registration no.: NCT00637156 (clinicaltrials.gov)


Incidence of Adjacent Segment Disease Requiring Reoperation After Lumbar Laminectomy Without Fusion


Neurosurgery 78:192–199, 2016

Adjacent segment disease (ASD) has not been described after laminectomy without fusion.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the incidence of ASD after a 1- or 2-level lumbar laminectomy.

METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed medical records of all patients who underwent 1- or 2-level, bilateral lumbar laminectomy without fusion for degenerative spinal disease (all follow-up $1 year). ASD was defined as clinical and/or radiographic evidence of degenerative spinal disease that required reoperation at the level above or below the index laminectomy.

RESULTS: Of the 398 patients, the incidence of ASD requiring reoperation was 10%. The 39 ASD cases were almost equally distributed at L2-L3 (31%), L3-L4 (26%), and L5-S1 (31%), and to a lesser extent at L4-L5 (15%) (P = .51). The ASD incidences of 10% and 9% were equivalent after a 1- and 2-level laminectomy, respectively (P = .76). Rostral ASD was statistically more common than caudal ASD after both the 1- (P , .001) and 2- (P , .001) level laminectomy. Of the 39 ASD cases, 95% required laminectomy, 26% discectomy, and 49% fusion. Average time to ASD was 4 years. After a Kaplan-Meier analysis, time to reoperation for ASD was equivalent among the 1- and 2-level laminectomy cohorts (log-rank test, P = .13).

CONCLUSION: The cumulative incidence of ASD requiring reoperation was 10% over a mean of 4 years. Both the 1- and 2-level laminectomy cohorts experienced equivalent incidences and rates of ASD. Of the 39 operations for ASD, about half required a fusion.

Complications associated with the Dynesys dynamic stabilization system


Neurosurg Focus 40 (1):E2, 2016

The Dynesys dynamic stabilization system is an alternative to rigid instrumentation and fusion for the treatment of lumbar degenerative disease. Although many outcomes studies have shown good results, currently lacking is a comprehensive report on complications associated with this system, especially in terms of how it compares with reported complication rates of fusion.

For the present study, the authors reviewed the literature to find all studies involving the Dynesys dynamic stabilization system that reported complications or adverse events. Twenty-one studies were included for a total of 1166 patients with a mean age of 55.5 years (range 39–71 years) and a mean follow-up period of 33.7 months (range 12.0–81.6 months). Analysis of these studies demonstrated a surgical-site infection rate of 4.3%, pedicle screw loosening rate of 11.7%, pedicle screw fracture rate of 1.6%, and adjacent-segment disease (ASD) rate of 7.0%. Of studies reporting revision surgeries, 11.3% of patients underwent a reoperation. Of patients who developed ASD, 40.6% underwent a reoperation for treatment.

The Dynesys dynamic stabilization system appears to have a fairly similar complication-rate profile compared with published literature on lumbar fusion, and is associated with a slightly lower incidence of ASD.

Two-level corpectomy versus three-level discectomy for cervical spondylotic myelopathy

Two-level corpectomy versus three-level discectomy for cervical spondylotic myelopathy

J Neurosurg Spine 23:280–289, 2015

In the treatment of cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM), anterior cervical corpectomy and fusion (ACCF) and anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) are effective decompressive techniques. It remains to be determined whether ACCF and ACDF offer equivalent outcomes for multilevel CSM. In this study, the authors compared perioperative, radiographic, and clinical outcomes between 2-level ACCF and 3-level ACDF.

Methods Between 2006 and 2012, all patients at the authors’ hospital who underwent 2-level ACCF or 3-level ACDF performed by 1 of 2 surgeons were identified. Primary outcomes of interest were sagittal Cobb angle, adjacent-segment disease (ASD) requiring surgery, neck pain measured by visual analog scale (VAS), and Nurick score. Secondary outcomes of interest included estimated blood loss (EBL), length of stay, perioperative complications, and radiographic pseudarthrosis rate. Chi-square tests and 2-tailed Student t-tests were used to compare the 2 groups. A subgroup analysis of patients without posterior spinal fusion (PSF) was also performed.

Results Twenty patients underwent 2-level ACCF, and 35 patients underwent 3-level ACDF during a 6-year period. Preoperative Nurick scores were higher in the ACCF group (2.1 vs 1.1, p = 0.014), and more patients underwent PSF in the 2-level ACCF group compared with patients in the 3-level ACDF group (60.0% vs 17.1%, p = 0.001). Otherwise there were no significant differences in demographics, comorbidities, and baseline clinical parameters between the 2 groups. Two-level ACCF was associated with significantly higher EBL compared with 3-level ACDF for the anterior stage of surgery (382.2 ml vs 117.9 ml, p < 0.001). Two-level ACCF was also associated with a longer hospital stay compared with 3-level ACDF (7.2 days vs 4.9 days, p = 0.048), but a subgroup comparison of patients without PSF showed no significant difference in length of stay (3.1 days vs 4.4 days for 2-level ACCF vs 3-level ACDF, respectively; p = 0.267). Similarly, there was a trend toward more complications in the 2-level ACCF group (20.0%) than the 3-level ACDF group (5.7%; p = 0.102), but a subgroup analysis that excluded those who had second-stage PSF no longer showed the same trend (2-level ACCF, 0.0% vs 3-level ACDF, 3.4%; p = 0.594). There were no significant differences between the ACCF group and the ACDF group in terms of postoperative sagittal Cobb angle (7.2° vs 12.1°, p = 0.173), operative ASD (6.3% vs 3.6%, p = 0.682), and radiographic pseudarthrosis rate (6.3% vs 7.1%, p = 0.909). Both groups had similar improvement in mean VAS neck pain scores (3.4 vs 3.2 for ACCF vs ACDF, respectively; p = 0.860) and Nurick scores (0.8 vs 0.7, p = 0.925).

Conclusions Two-level ACCF was associated with greater EBL and longer hospital stays when patients underwent a second-stage PSF. However, the length of stay was similar when patients underwent anterior-only decompression with either 2-level ACCF or 3-level ACDF. Furthermore, perioperative complication rates were similar in the 2 groups when patients underwent anterior decompression without PSF. Both groups obtained similar postoperative cervical lordosis, operative ASD rates, radiographic pseudarthrosis rates, neurological improvement, and pain relief.

Impact of Body Mass Index on Adjacent Segment Disease After Lumbar Fusion for Degenerative Spine Disease

Impact of Body Mass Index on Adjacent Segment Disease After Lumbar Fusion for Degenerative Spine Disease

Neurosurgery 76:396–402, 2015

Adjacent segment disease is an important complication after fusion of degenerative lumbar spines. However, the role of body mass index (BMI) in adjacent segment disease has been addressed less.

OBJECTIVE: To examine the relationship between BMI and adjacent segment disease after lumbar fusion for degenerative spine diseases.

METHODS: For this retrospective study, we enrolled 190 patients undergoing lumbar fusion surgery for degeneration. BMI at admission was documented. Adjacent segment disease was defined by integration of the clinical presentations and radiographic criteria based on the morphology of the dural sac on magnetic resonance images.

RESULTS: Adjacent segment disease was identified in 13 of the 190 patients, accounting for 6.8%. The interval between surgery and diagnosis as adjacent segment disease ranged from 21 to 66 months. Five of the 13 patients required subsequent surgical intervention for clinically relevant adjacent segment disease. In the logistic regression model, BMI was a risk factor for adjacent segment disease after lumbar fusion for degenerative spine diseases (odds ratio, 1.68; 95% confidence interval, 1.27- 2.21; P < .001). Any increase of 1 mean value in BMI would increase the adjacent segment disease rate by 67.6%. The patients were subdivided into 2 groups based on BMI, and up to 11.9% of patients with BMI ≥25 kg/m2 were diagnosed as having adjacent segment disease at the last follow-up.

CONCLUSION: BMI is a risk factor for adjacent segment disease in patients undergoing lumbar fusion for degenerative spine diseases. Because BMI is clinically objective and modifiable, controlling body weight before or after surgery may provide opportunities to reduce the rate of adjacent segment disease and to improve the outcome of fusion surgery.

Minimally invasive lateral fusion for adjacent disease

Minimally invasive lateral interbody fusion for the treatment of rostral adjacent-segment lumbar degenerative stenosis without supplemental pedicle screw fixation

J Neurosurg Spine 21:861–866, 2014

Adjacent-segment degeneration and stenosis are common in patients who have undergone previous lumbar fusion. Treatment typically involves a revision posterior approach, which requires management of postoperative scar tissue and previously implanted instrumentation. A minimally invasive lateral approach allows the surgeon to potentially reduce the risk of these hazards. The technique relies on indirect decompression to treat central and foraminal stenosis and placement of a graft with a large surface area to promote robust fusion and stability in concert with the surrounding tensioned ligaments. The goal in this study was to determine if lateral interbody fusion without supplemental pedicle screws is effective in treating adjacent-segment disease.

Methods. For a 30-month study period at two institutions, the authors obtained all cases of lumbar fusion with new back and leg pain due to adjacent-segment stenosis and spondylosis failing conservative measures. All patients had undergone minimally invasive lateral interbody fusion from the side of greater leg pain without supplemental pedicle screw fixation. Patients were excluded from the study if they had undergone surgery for a nondegenerative etiology such as infection or trauma. They were also excluded if the intervention involved supplemental posterior instrumented fusion with transpedicular screws. Postoperative metrics included numeric pain scale (NPS) scores for leg and back pain. All patients underwent dynamic radiographs and CT scanning to assess stability and fusion after surgery.

Results. During the 30-month study period, 21 patients (43% female) were successfully treated using minimally invasive lateral interbody fusion without the need for subsequent posterior transpedicular fixation. The mean patient age was 61 years (range 37–87 years). Four patients had two adjacent levels fused, while the remainder had single-level surgery. All patients underwent surgery without conversion to a traditional open technique, and recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein–2 was used in the interbody space in all cases. The mean follow-up was 23.6 months. The mean operative time was 86 minutes, and the mean blood loss was 93 ml. There were no major intraoperative complications, but one patient underwent subsequent direct decompression in a delayed fashion. The leg pain NPS score improved from a mean of 6.3 to 1.9 (p < 0.01), and the back pain NPS score improved from a mean of 7.5 to 2.9 (p < 0.01). Intervertebral settling averaged 1.7 mm. All patients had bridging bone on CT scanning at the last follow-up, indicating solid bony fusion.

Conclusions. Adjacent-segment stenosis and spondylosis can be treated with a number of different operative techniques. Lateral interbody fusion provides an attractive alternative with reduced blood loss and complications, as there is no need to re-explore a previous laminectomy site. In this limited series a minimally invasive lateral approach provided high fusion rates when performed with osteobiological adjuvants.

3D motion analysis comparing ACDF with an artificial disc

3D motion analysis comparing ACDF with an artificial disc

J Neurosurg Spine 20:245–255, 2014

Cervical arthroplasty with an artificial disc (AD) has emerged as an alternative to anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) for the management of cervical spondylosis. This study aims to provide 3D motion analysis data comparing patients after ACDF and AD replacement.

Methods. Ten patients who underwent C5–6 ACDF and 7 who underwent C5–6 AD replacement were enrolled. Using biplanar fluoroscopy and a model-based track technique (accurate up to 0.6 mm and 0.6°), motion analysis of axial rotation and flexion-extension of the neck was performed. Three nonoperative segments (C3–4, C4–5, and C6–7) were assessed for both intervertebral rotation (coronal, sagittal, and axial planes) and facet shear (anteroposterior and mediolateral).

Results. There was no difference in total neck motion comparing ACDF and AD replacement for neck extension (43.3° ± 10.2° vs 44.3° ± 12.6°, p = 0.866) and rotation (36.0° ± 6.5° vs 38.2° ± 9.3°, p = 0.576). For extension, when measured as a percentage of total neck motion, there was a greater amount of rotation at the nonoperated segments in the ACDF group than in the AD group (p = 0.003). When comparing specific motion segments, greater normalized rotation was seen in the ACDF group at C3–4 (33.2% ± 4.9% vs 26.8% ± 6.6%, p = 0.036) and C6–7 (28.5% ± 6.7% vs 20.5% ± 5.5%, p = 0.009) but not at C4–5 (33.5% ± 6.4% vs 31.8% ± 4.0%, p = 0.562). For neck rotation, greater rotation was observed at the nonoperative segments in the ACDF group than in the AD group (p = 0.024), but the differences between individual segments did not reach significance (p ≥ 0.146). Increased mediolateral facet shear was seen on neck extension with ACDF versus AD replacement (p = 0.008). Comparing each segment, C3–4 (0.9 ± 0.5 mm vs 0.4 ± 0.1 mm, p = 0.039) and C4–5 (1.0 ± 0.4 mm vs 0.5 ± 0.2 mm, p = 0.022) showed increased shear while C6–7 (1.0 ± 0.4 mm vs 1.0 ± 0.5 mm, p = 0.767) did not.

Conclusions. This study illustrates increased motion at nonoperative segments in patients who have undergone ACDF compared with those who have undergone AD replacement. Further studies will be required to examine whether these changes contribute to adjacent-segment disease.

Adjacent Segment Disease After Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion in a Large Series


Neurosurgery 74:139–146, 2014

Adjacent segment disease (ASD) development is known to occur after anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF).

OBJECTIVE: To study the relationship between index ACDF levels and the location of ASD development (above/below), as well as the effect of fusion length on ASD development.

METHODS: We report 888 patients who underwent ACDF for cervical spondylosis over a twenty-year period at a single institution. Of these patients, 108 had re-do surgery due to symptomatic ASD. Patients were followed for an average of 92.4 6 52.6 months after the index ACDF.

RESULTS: In agreement with previous ACDF case series, we found the highest rates of cervical spinal degenerative disease requiring surgery at C5/C6, followed by C6/C7. Interestingly, neither the inherent location of index ACDF nor the length of instrumented arthrodesis appeared to correlate with the propensity to develop ASD. However, patients were more likely to develop ASD above the index level of fusion. This was true even for patients undergoing a second revision surgery due to recurrent ASD. Importantly, our data are consistent with existing in vitro biomechanical data in cadaveric spines.

CONCLUSION: We describe in detail the location and length of arthrodesis for index ACDFs, as well as first and second revision fusion surgeries in one of the largest Western cohorts in the literature. Our findings support the theory that iatrogenically introduced stress and instability at adjacent spinal segments contribute to the pathogenesis of ASD.

Comparison of Superior-Level Facet Joint Violations During Open and Percutaneous Pedicle Screw Placement

Neurosurgery 71:962–970, 2012 

Superior-level facet joint violation by pedicle screws may result in increased stress to the level above the instrumentation and may contribute to adjacent segment disease. Previous studies have evaluated facet joint violations in open or percutaneous screw cases, but there are no reports describing a direct institutional comparison.

OBJECTIVE: To compare the incidence of superior-level facet violation for open vs percutaneous pedicle screws and to evaluate patient and surgical factors that affect this outcome.

METHODS: We reviewed 279 consecutive patients who underwent an index instrumented lumbar fusion from 2007 to 2011 for degenerative spine disease with stenosis with or without spondylolisthesis. We used a computed tomography grading system that represents progressively increasing grades of facet joint violation. Patient and surgical factors were evaluated to determine their impact on facet violation.

RESULTS: Our cohort consisted of 126 open and 153 percutaneous cases. Percutaneous procedures had a higher overall violation grade (P = .02) and a greater incidence of high-grade violations (P = .006) compared with open procedures. Bivariate analysis showed significantly greater violations in percutaneous cases for age,65 years, obesity, pedicle screws at L4, and 1- and 2-level surgeries. Multivariate analysis showed the percutaneous approach and depth of the spine to be independent risk factors for highgrade violations.

CONCLUSION: This study demonstrates greater facet violations for percutaneously placed pedicle screws compared with open screws.