Bony overgrowth and spontaneous fusion are complications of cervical arthroplasty. In contrast, bone loss or bone remodeling of vertebral bodies at the operation segment after cervical arthroplasty has also been observed. The purpose of this study is to investigate a potential complication—bone loss of the anterior portion of the vertebral bodies at the surgically treated segment after cervical total disc replacement (TDR)—and discuss the clinical significance.
All enrolled patients underwent follow-up for more than 24 months after cervical arthroplasty using the Baguera C disc. Clinical evaluations included recording demographic data and measuring the visual analog scale and Neck Disability Index scores. Radiographic evaluations included measurements of the functional spinal unit's range of motion and changes such as bone loss and bone remodeling. The grading of the bone loss of the operative segment was classified as follows: Grade 1, disappearance of the anterior osteophyte or small minor bone loss; Grade 2, bone loss of the anterior portion of the vertebral bodies at the operation segment without exposure of the artificial disc; or Grade 3, significant bone loss with exposure of the anterior portion of the artificial disc.
Forty-eight patients were enrolled in this study. Among them, bone loss developed in 29 patients (Grade 1 in 15 patients, Grade 2 in 6 patients, and Grade 3 in 8 patients). Grade 3 bone loss was significantly associated with postoperative neck pain (p < 0.05). Bone loss was related to the motion preservation effect of the operative segment after cervical arthroplasty in contrast to heterotopic ossification.
Bone loss may be a potential complication of cervical TDR and affect early postoperative neck pain. However, it did not affect mid- to long-term clinical outcomes or prosthetic failure at the last follow-up. Also, this phenomenon may result in the motion preservation effect in the operative segment after cervical TDR.