Benedikt W. Burkhardt, Simon J. Müller, Anne-Catherine Wagner and Joachim M. Oertel
Infection of the cervical spine is a rare disease but is associated with significant risk of neurological deterioration, morbidity, and a poor response to nonsurgical management. The ideal treatment for cervical spondylodiscitis (CSD) remains unclear.
Hospital records of patients who underwent acute surgical management for CSD were reviewed. Information about preoperative neurological status, surgical treatment, peri- and postoperative processes, antibiotic treatment, repeated procedure, and neurological status at follow-up examination were analyzed.
A total of 30 consecutive patients (17 male and 13 female) were included in this retrospective study. The mean age at procedures was 68.1 years (range 50–82 years), with mean of 6 coexisting comorbidities. Preoperatively neck pain was noted in 21 patients (70.0%), arm pain in 12 (40.0%), a paresis in 12 (40.0%), sensory deficit in 8 (26.7%), tetraparesis in 6 (20%), a septicemia in 4 (13.3%). Preoperative MRI scan revealed a CSD in one-level fusion in 21 patients (70.0%), in two-level fusions in 7 patients (23.3%), and in three-level fusions in 2 patients (6.7%). In 16 patients an antibiotic treatment was initiated prior to surgical treatment. Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion with cervical plating (ACDF+CP) was performed in 17 patients and anterior cervical corpectomy and fusion (ACCF) in 12 patients. Additional posterior decompression was performed in one case of ACDF+CP and additional posterior fixation in ten cases of ACCF procedures. Three patients died due to multiple organ failure (10%). Revision surgery was performed in 6 patients (20.7%) within the first 2 weeks postoperatively. All patients received antibiotic treatment for 6 weeks. At the first follow-up (mean 3 month) no recurrent infection was detected on blood workup and MRI scans. At final follow-up (mean 18 month), all patients reported improvement of neck pain, all but one patients were free of radicular pain and had no sensory deficits, and all patients showed improvement of motor strength. One patient with preoperative tetraparesis was able to ambulate.
CSD is a disease that is associated with severe neurological deterioration. Anterior cervical surgery with radical debridement and appropriate antibiotic treatment achieves complete healing. Anterior cervical plating with the use of polyetheretherketone cages has no negative effect of the healing process. Posterior fixation is recommended following ACCF procedures.
Benedikt W. Burkhardt, Andreas Simgen, Gudrun Wagenpfeil, Philipp Hendrix, Matthias Dehnen, Wolfgang Reith and Joachim M. Oertel
There is currently no consensus on whether adjacent-segment degeneration (ASD), loss of disc height (DH), and loss of sagittal segmental angle (SSA) are due to anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF). The purpose of the present study was to assess the grade of segmental degeneration after ACDF and to analyze if there is a difference with respect to clinical outcome, diagnosis, and number of operated levels.
A total of 102 patients who underwent ACDF with a minimum follow-up of 18 years were retrospectively identified. At final follow-up, the clinical outcome according to Odom’s criteria, the Neck Disability Index (NDI), and reoperation for symptomatic ASD (sASD) was assessed. MRI was performed, and DH, SSA, and the segmental degeneration index (SDI, a 5-step grading system that includes disc signal intensity, anterior and posterior disc protrusion, narrowing of the disc space, and foraminal stenosis) were assessed for evaluation of the 2 adjacent and 4 adjoining segments to the ACDF. MRI findings were compared with respect to clinical outcome (NDI: 0%–20% vs > 20%; Odom’s criteria: success vs no success), reoperation for sASD, initial diagnosis (cervical disc herniation [CDH] vs cervical spondylotic myelopathy [CSM] and spondylosis), and the number of operated levels (1 vs 2–4 levels).
The mean follow-up was 25 years (range 18–45 years), and the diagnosis was CDH in 74.5% of patients and CSM/spondylosis in 25.5%. At follow-up, the mean NDI was 12.4% (range 0%–36%), the clinical success rate was 87.3%, and the reoperation rate for sASD was 15.7%. For SDI, no significant differences were seen with respect to NDI, Odom’s criteria, and sASD. Patients diagnosed with CDH had significantly more degeneration at the adjacent segments (cranial, p = 0.015; caudal, p = 0.017). Patients with a 2- to 4-level procedure had less degeneration at the caudal adjacent (p = 0.011) and proximal adjoining (p = 0.019) segments. Aside from a significantly lower DH at the proximal cranial adjoining segment in cases of CSM/spondylosis and without clinical success, no further differences were noted. The degree of SSA was not significantly different with respect to clinical outcome.
No significant differences were seen in the SDI grade and SSA with respect to clinical outcome. The SDI is higher after single-level ACDF and with the diagnosis of CDH. The DH was negligibly different with respect to clinical outcome, diagnosis, and number of operated levels.