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Tsung-Hsi Tu, Chu-Yi Lee, Chao-Hung Kuo, Jau-Ching Wu, Hsuan-Kan Chang, Li-Yu Fay, Wen-Cheng Huang and Henrich Cheng

OBJECTIVE

The published clinical trials of cervical disc arthroplasty (CDA) have unanimously demonstrated the success of preservation of motion (average 7°–9°) at the index level for up to 10 years postoperatively. The inclusion criteria in these trials usually required patients to have evident mobility at the level to be treated (≥ 2° on lateral flexion-extension radiographs) prior to the surgery. Although the mean range of motion (ROM) remained similar after CDA, it was unclear in these trials if patients with less preoperative ROM would have different outcomes than patients with more ROM.

METHODS

A series of consecutive patients who underwent CDA at the level of C5–6 were followed up and retrospectively reviewed. The indications for surgery were medically refractory cervical radiculopathy, myelopathy, or both, caused by cervical disc herniation or spondylosis. All patients were assigned to 1 of 2 groups: a less-mobile group, which consisted of those patients who had an ROM of ≤ 5° at C5–6 preoperatively, or a more-mobile group, which consisted of patients whose ROM at C5–6 was > 5° preoperatively. Clinical outcomes, including visual analog scale, Neck Disability Index, and Japanese Orthopaedic Association Scale scores, were evaluated at each time point. Radiological outcomes were also assessed.

RESULTS

A total of 60 patients who had follow-up for more than 2 years were analyzed. There were 27 patients in the less-mobile group (mean preoperative ROM 3.0°) and 33 in the more-mobile group (mean ROM 11.7°). The 2 groups were similar in demographics, including age, sex, diabetes, and cigarette smoking. Both groups had significant improvements in clinical outcomes, with no significant differences between the 2 groups. However, the radiological evaluations demonstrated remarkable differences. The less-mobile group had a greater increase in ΔROM than the more-mobile group (ΔROM 5.5° vs 0.1°, p = 0.001), though the less-mobile group still had less segmental mobility (ROM 8.5° vs 11.7°, p = 0.04). The rates of complications were similar in both groups.

CONCLUSIONS

Preoperative segmental mobility did not alter the clinical outcomes of CDA. The preoperatively less-mobile (ROM ≤ 5°) discs had similar clinical improvements and greater increase of segmental mobility (ΔROM), but remained less mobile, than the preoperatively more-mobile (ROM > 5°) discs at 2 years postoperatively.

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Hsuan-Kan Chang, Wen-Cheng Huang, Tsung-Hsi Tu, Li-Yu Fay, Chao-Hung Kuo, Chih-Chang Chang, Ching-Lan Wu, Jiing-Feng Lirng, Jau-Ching Wu, Henrich Cheng and Shih-Ming Hsu

OBJECTIVE

One- and two-level cervical disc arthroplasty (CDA) has been compared to anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) in several large-scale, prospective, randomized trials that have demonstrated similar clinical outcomes. However, whether these results would be similar when treating 3-level disc herniation and/or spondylosis has remained unanswered. This study aimed to investigate the differences between 3-level CDA and ACDF.

METHODS

A series of 50 patients who underwent 3-level CDA at C3–7 was retrospectively reviewed and compared with another series of 50 patients (age- and sex-matched controls) who underwent ACDF at C3–7. Clinical outcomes were measured using the visual analog scale (VAS) for neck and arm pain, the modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association (mJOA) scale, and the Neck Disability Index (NDI). Radiological outcomes included range of motion (ROM) at the index levels. Every patient was evaluated by CT for the presence of fusion in the ACDF group. Also, complication profiles were investigated.

RESULTS

The demographics and levels of distribution in both groups were very similar. During the follow-up period of 24 months, clinical outcomes improved (overall and respectively in each group) for both the CDA and ACDF patients when compared with the patients’ preoperative condition. There were essentially few differences between the two groups in terms of neck and arm pain VAS scores, mJOA scores, and NDI scores preoperatively and at 3, 6, 12, and 24 months postoperatively. After the 3-level surgery, the CDA group had an increased mean ROM of approximately 3.4°, at 25.2° ± 8.84°, compared to their preoperative ROM (21.8° ± 7.20°) (p = 0.001), whereas the ACDF group had little mobility (22.8° ± 5.90° before and 1.0° ± 1.28° after surgery; p < 0.001). The mean operative time, estimated blood loss, and complication profiles were similar for both groups.

CONCLUSIONS

In this selectively matched retrospective study, clinical outcomes after 3-level CDA and ACDF were similar during the 2-year follow-up period. CDA not only successfully preserved but slightly increased the mobility at the 3 index levels. However, the safety and efficacy of 3-level CDA requires more long-term data for validatation.