Object. Both C-reactive protein (CRP) level and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) were measured prospectively in 51 cases in which uncomplicated cervical anterior fusion was performed. The object of the authors was to quantify the differences in the responses of these parameters recorded in the immediate postoperative period and to determine factors influencing their course.
Methods. Nineteen one-level, 23 two-level, and nine three-level procedures for disc herniation and degenerative disease of the cervical spine were performed in 22 female and 29 male patients (mean age 49.2 years).
Blood samples were obtained 1 day before as well as on 10 consecutive days and 3 months following anterior cervical fusion. Serum CRP level was measured using a fluorescence polarization immunoassay and ESR was determined from the same samples. Operative time, the number of blood transfusions, and drugs administered in the postoperative period were recorded. In addition, hemoglobin, hematocrit, red blood cell count, platelet count, white cell count, and axillary body temperature were checked daily.
Conclusions. Monitoring of CRP level is superior to that of ESR for early detection of infections after cervical spine surgery. Although CRP was not related to any of the factors that have been proposed to explain its peak value variance in previous studies, individual acute-phase protein metabolism response to tissue affection appears to be a more decisive element in this respect.