Both structural allograft and PEEK have been used for anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF). There are reports that PEEK has a higher pseudarthrosis rate than structural allograft. The authors compared pseudarthrosis, revision, subsidence, and loss of lordosis rates in patients with PEEK and structural allograft.
The authors performed a retrospective review of patients who were treated with ACDF at their hospital between 2005 and 2017. Inclusion criteria were adult patients with either PEEK or structural allograft, anterior plate fixation, and a minimum 2-year follow-up. Exclusion criteria were hybrid PEEK and allograft cases, additional posterior surgery, adjacent corpectomies, infection, tumor, stand-alone or integrated screw and cage devices, bone morphogenetic protein use, or lack of a minimum 2-year follow-up. Demographic variables, number of treated levels, interbody type (PEEK cage vs structural allograft), graft packing material, pseudarthrosis rates, revision surgery rates, subsidence, and cervical lordosis changes were collected. These data were analyzed by Pearson’s chi-square test (or Fisher’s exact test, according to the sample size and expected value) and Student t-test.
A total of 168 patients (264 levels total, mean follow-up time 39.5 ± 24.0 months) were analyzed. Sixty-one patients had PEEK, and 107 patients had structural allograft. Pseudarthrosis rates for 1-level fusions were 5.4% (PEEK) and 3.4% (allograft) (p > 0.05); 2-level fusions were 7.1% (PEEK) and 8.1% (allograft) (p > 0.05); and ≥ 3-level fusions were 10% (PEEK) and 11.1% (allograft) (p > 0.05). There was no statistical difference in the subsidence magnitude between PEEK and allograft in 1-, 2-, and ≥ 3-level ACDF (p > 0.05). Postoperative lordosis loss was not different between cohorts for 1- and 2-level surgeries.
In 1- and 2-level ACDF with plating involving the same number of fusion levels, there was no statistically significant difference in the pseudarthrosis rate, revision surgery rate, subsidence, and lordosis loss between PEEK cages and structural allograft.