Local bone dust has been used previously as a substitute cage filling material for iliac bone grafts during anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF). However, the impacts of local bone dust on fusion rate and clinical results remain unclear. Extragraft bone bridging (ExGBB) is a reliable CT finding indicating segmental fusion. This study was conducted to compare fusion rates for the use of local bone dust or an iliac auto bone graft during ACDF surgery and to evaluate the effect of implanting bone graft outside the cage.
Ninety-three patients who underwent ACDF at a single institution were included. An iliac bone graft was used as the polyetheretherketone (PEEK) cage filling graft material in 43 patients (iliac crest [IC] group). In the IC group, bone graft material was inserted only inside the cage. Local bone dust was used in 50 patients (local bone [LB] group). Bone graft material was inserted both inside and outside the cage in the LB group. Segmental fusion was assessed by 1) interspinous motion (ISM), 2) intragraft bone bridging (InGBB), and 3) ExGBB. Fusion rates, visual analog scale (VAS) scores for neck and arm pain, and Neck Disability Index (NDI) scores were compared between the 2 groups.
The neck and arm pain VAS scores and NDI score improved significantly in both groups. Fusion rates assessed by ISM and InGBB did not differ significantly between the groups. However, the fusion rate in the LB group was significantly higher than that in the IC group when assessed by ExGBB (p = 0.02).
Using local bone dust as cage filling material resulted in fusion rates similar to those for an iliac bone graft, while avoiding potential complications and pain caused by iliac bone harvesting. A higher rate of extragraft bone bridge formation was achieved by implanting local bone dust outside the cage.