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Michael G. Fehlings, Justin S. Smith, Branko Kopjar, Paul M. Arnold, S. Tim Yoon, Alexander R. Vaccaro, Darrel S. Brodke, Michael E. Janssen, Jens R. Chapman, Rick C. Sasso, Eric J. Woodard, Robert J. Banco, Eric M. Massicotte, Mark B. Dekutoski, Ziya L. Gokaslan, Christopher M. Bono, and Christopher I. Shaffrey

Object

Rates of complications associated with the surgical treatment of cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) are not clear. Appreciating these risks is important for patient counseling and quality improvement. The authors sought to assess the rates of and risk factors associated with perioperative and delayed complications associated with the surgical treatment of CSM.

Methods

Data from the AOSpine North America Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy Study, a prospective, multicenter study, were analyzed. Outcomes data, including adverse events, were collected in a standardized manner and externally monitored. Rates of perioperative complications (within 30 days of surgery) and delayed complications (31 days to 2 years following surgery) were tabulated and stratified based on clinical factors.

Results

The study enrolled 302 patients (mean age 57 years, range 29–86) years. Of 332 reported adverse events, 73 were classified as perioperative complications (25 major and 48 minor) in 47 patients (overall perioperative complication rate of 15.6%). The most common perioperative complications included minor cardiopulmonary events (3.0%), dysphagia (3.0%), and superficial wound infection (2.3%). Perioperative worsening of myelopathy was reported in 4 patients (1.3%). Based on 275 patients who completed 2 years of follow-up, there were 14 delayed complications (8 minor, 6 major) in 12 patients, for an overall delayed complication rate of 4.4%. Of patients treated with anterior-only (n = 176), posterior-only (n = 107), and combined anterior-posterior (n = 19) procedures, 11%, 19%, and 37%, respectively, had 1 or more perioperative complications. Compared with anterior-only approaches, posterior-only approaches had a higher rate of wound infection (0.6% vs 4.7%, p = 0.030). Dysphagia was more common with combined anterior-posterior procedures (21.1%) compared with anterior-only procedures (2.3%) or posterior-only procedures (0.9%) (p < 0.001). The incidence of C-5 radiculopathy was not associated with the surgical approach (p = 0.8). The occurrence of perioperative complications was associated with increased age (p = 0.006), combined anterior-posterior procedures (p = 0.016), increased operative time (p = 0.009), and increased operative blood loss (p = 0.005), but it was not associated with comorbidity score, body mass index, modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association score, smoking status, anterior-only versus posterior-only approach, or specific procedures. Multivariate analysis of factors associated with minor or major complications identified age (OR 1.029, 95% CI 1.002–1.057, p = 0.035) and operative time (OR 1.005, 95% CI 1.002–1.008, p = 0.001). Multivariate analysis of factors associated with major complications identified age (OR 1.054, 95% CI 1.015–1.094, p = 0.006) and combined anterior-posterior procedures (OR 5.297, 95% CI 1.626–17.256, p = 0.006).

Conclusions

For the surgical treatment of CSM, the vast majority of complications were treatable and without long-term impact. Multivariate factors associated with an increased risk of complications include greater age, increased operative time, and use of combined anterior-posterior procedures.

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Myles Luszczyk, Justin S. Smith, Jeffrey S. Fischgrund, Steven C. Ludwig, Rick C. Sasso, Christopher I. Shaffrey, and Alexander R. Vaccaro

Object

Although smoking has been shown to negatively affect fusion rates in patients undergoing multilevel fusions of the cervical and lumbar spine, the effect of smoking on fusion rates in patients undergoing single-level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) with allograft and plate fixation has yet to be thoroughly investigated. The objective of the present study was to address the effect of smoking on fusion rates in patients undergoing a 1-level ACDF with allograft and a locked anterior cervical plate.

Methods

This study is composed of patients from the control groups of 5 separate studies evaluating the use of an anterior cervical disc replacement to treat cervical radiculopathy. For each of the 5 studies the control group consisted of patients who underwent a 1-level ACDF with allograft and a locked cervical plate. The authors of the present study reviewed data obtained in a total of 573 patients; 156 patients were smokers and 417 were nonsmokers. A minimum follow-up period of 24 months was required for inclusion in this study. Fusion status was assessed by independent observers using lateral, neutral, and flexion/extension radiographs.

Results

An overall fusion rate of 91.4% was achieved in all 573 patients. A solid fusion was shown in 382 patients (91.6%) who were nonsmokers. Among patients who were smokers, 142 (91.0%) had radiographic evidence of a solid fusion. A 2-tailed Fisher exact test revealed a p value of 0.867, indicating no difference in the union rates between smokers and nonsmokers.

Conclusions

The authors found no statistically significant difference in fusion status between smokers and nonsmokers who underwent a single-level ACDF with allograft and a locked anterior cervical plate. Although the authors do not promote tobacco use, it appears that the use of allograft with a locked cervical plate in single-level ACDF among smokers produces similar fusion rates as it does in their nonsmoking counterparts.