Cervical disc arthroplasty (CDA) has been demonstrated to be an effective treatment modality for single-level cervical radiculopathy or myelopathy. Its advantages over an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) include motion preservation and decreased reoperations at the index and adjacent segments up to 7 years postoperatively. Considering the fact that many patients have multilevel cervical disc degeneration (CDD), the authors performed a systematic review of the clinical studies evaluating patients who underwent multilevel CDA (2 or more levels).
A systematic review in the MEDLINE database was performed. Clinical studies including patients who had multilevel CDA were selected and included. Case reports and literature reviews were excluded. Articles were then grouped according to their main study objective: 1) studies comparing multilevel CDA versus ACDF; 2) studies comparing single-level CDA versus multilevel CDA; and 3) multilevel CDA after a previous cervical spine surgery.
Fourteen articles met all inclusion criteria. The general conclusions were that multilevel CDA was at least as safe and effective as ACDF, with preservation of cervical motion when compared with ACDF and potentially with fewer reoperations expected in most of the studies. Multilevel CDAs are clinically effective as single-level surgeries, with good clinical and radiological outcomes. Some studies reported a higher incidence of heterotopic ossification in multilevel CDA when compared with single-level procedures, but without clinical relevance during the follow-up period. A CDA may be indicated even after a previous cervical surgery in selected cases.
The current literature supports the use of multilevel CDA. Caution is necessary regarding the more restrictive indications for CDA when compared with ACDF. Further prospective, controlled, multicenter, and randomized studies not sponsored by the device manufactures are desirable to prove the superiority of CDA surgery over ACDF as the treatment of choice for CDD in selected cases.