By minimizing imaging artifact and particle scatter, carbon fiber–reinforced polyetheretherketone (CF-PEEK) spinal implants are hypothesized to enhance radiotherapy (RT) planning/dosing and improve oncological outcomes. However, robust clinical studies comparing tumor surgery outcomes between CF-PEEK and traditional metallic implants are lacking. In this paper, the authors performed a systematic review of the literature with the aim to describe clinical outcomes in patients with spine tumors who received CF-PEEK implants, focusing on implant-related complications and oncological outcomes.
A systematic review of the literature published between database inception and May 2022 was performed in accordance with the 2020 Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) statement. The PubMed database was queried using the terms "carbon fiber" and "spine" or "spinal." The inclusion criteria were articles that described patients with CF-PEEK pedicle screw fixation and had a minimum of 5 patients. Case reports and phantom studies were excluded.
This review included 11 articles with 326 patients (237 with CF-PEEK–based implants and 89 with titanium-based implants). The mean follow-up period was 13.5 months, and most tumors were metastatic (67.1%). The rates of implant-related complications in the CF-PEEK and titanium groups were 7.8% and 4.7%, respectively. The rate of pedicle screw fracture was 1.7% in the CF-PEEK group and 2.4% in the titanium group. The rates of reoperation were 5.7% (with 60.0% because of implant failure or junctional kyphosis) and 4.8% (all because of implant failure or junctional kyphosis) in the CF-PEEK and titanium groups, respectively. When reported, 72.5% of patients received postoperative RT (41.0% stereotactic body RT, 30.8% fractionated RT, 25.6% proton, 2.6% carbon ion). Four articles suggested that implant artifact was reduced in the CF-PEEK group. Local recurrence occurred in 14.4% of CF-PEEK and 10.7% of titanium-implanted patients.
While CF-PEEK harbors similar implant failure rates to traditional metallic implants with reduced imaging artifact, it remains unclear whether CF-PEEK implants improve oncological outcomes. This study highlights the need for prospective, direct comparative clinical studies.