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Anna MacDowall, Martin Skeppholm, Lars Lindhagen, Yohan Robinson, Håkan Löfgren, Karl Michaëlsson and Claes Olerud

OBJECTIVE

The long-term efficacy of artificial disc replacement (ADR) surgery compared with fusion after decompression for the treatment of cervical degenerative disc disease and radiculopathy has not previously been investigated in a population-based setting.

METHODS

All patients with cervical degenerative disc disease and radiculopathy who were in the national Swedish Spine Registry (Swespine) beginning in January 1, 2006, were eligible for the study. Follow-up information was obtained up to November 15, 2017. The authors compared, using propensity score matching, patients treated with anterior decompression and insertion of an ADR with patients who underwent anterior decompression combined with fusion surgery. The primary outcome was the Neck Disability Index (NDI), a patient-reported function score ranging from 0% to 100%, with higher scores indicating greater disability and a minimum clinically important difference of > 15%.

RESULTS

A total of 3998 patients (2018:1980 women/men) met the inclusion criteria, of whom 204 had undergone arthroplasty and 3794 had undergone fusion. After propensity score matching, 185 patients with a mean age of 49.7 years remained in each group. Scores on the NDI were approximately halved in both groups after 5 years, but without a significant mean difference in NDI (3.0%; 95% CI −8.4 to 2.4; p = 0.28) between the groups. There were no differences between the groups in EuroQol–5 Dimensions or in pain scores for the neck and arm.

CONCLUSIONS

In patients with cervical degenerative disc disease and radiculopathy, decompression plus ADR surgery did not result in a clinically important difference in outcomes after 5 years, compared with decompression and fusion surgery.

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Anna MacDowall, Martin Skeppholm, Lars Lindhagen, Yohan Robinson, Håkan Löfgren, Karl Michaëlsson and Claes Olerud

OBJECTIVE

The long-term efficacy of artificial disc replacement (ADR) surgery compared with fusion after decompression for the treatment of cervical degenerative disc disease and radiculopathy has not previously been investigated in a population-based setting.

METHODS

All patients with cervical degenerative disc disease and radiculopathy who were in the national Swedish Spine Registry (Swespine) beginning in January 1, 2006, were eligible for the study. Follow-up information was obtained up to November 15, 2017. The authors compared, using propensity score matching, patients treated with anterior decompression and insertion of an ADR with patients who underwent anterior decompression combined with fusion surgery. The primary outcome was the Neck Disability Index (NDI), a patient-reported function score ranging from 0% to 100%, with higher scores indicating greater disability and a minimum clinically important difference of > 15%.

RESULTS

A total of 3998 patients (2018:1980 women/men) met the inclusion criteria, of whom 204 had undergone arthroplasty and 3794 had undergone fusion. After propensity score matching, 185 patients with a mean age of 49.7 years remained in each group. Scores on the NDI were approximately halved in both groups after 5 years, but without a significant mean difference in NDI (3.0%; 95% CI −8.4 to 2.4; p = 0.28) between the groups. There were no differences between the groups in EuroQol–5 Dimensions or in pain scores for the neck and arm.

CONCLUSIONS

In patients with cervical degenerative disc disease and radiculopathy, decompression plus ADR surgery did not result in a clinically important difference in outcomes after 5 years, compared with decompression and fusion surgery.

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Anna MacDowall, Nuno Canto Moreira, Catarina Marques, Martin Skeppholm, Lars Lindhagen, Yohan Robinson, Håkan Löfgren, Karl Michaëlsson and Claes Olerud

OBJECTIVE

The method of artificial disc replacement (ADR) has been developed as an alternative treatment to fusion surgery after decompression for cervical degenerative disc disease (DDD) with radiculopathy. Preserving the motion of ADR devices aims to prevent immobilization side effects such as adjacent-segment pathology (ASP). However, long-term follow-up evaluations using MRI are needed to investigate if this intent is achieved.

METHODS

The authors performed a randomized controlled trial with 153 patients (mean age 47 years) undergoing surgery for cervical radiculopathy. Eighty-three patients received an ADR and 70 patients underwent fusion surgery. Outcomes after 5 years were assessed using patient-reported outcome measures using the Neck Disability Index (NDI) score as the primary outcome; motion preservation and heterotopic ossification by radiography; ASP by MRI; and secondary surgical procedures.

RESULTS

Scores on the NDI were approximately halved in both groups: the mean score after 5 years was 36 (95% confidence interval [CI] 31–41) in the ADR group and 32 (95% CI 27–38) in the fusion group (p = 0.48). There were no other significant differences between the groups in six other patient-related outcome measures. Fifty-four percent of the patients in the ADR group preserved motion at the operated cervical level and 25% of the ADRs were spontaneously fused. Seventeen ADR patients (21%) and 7 fusion patients (10%) underwent secondary surgery (p = 0.11), with 5 patients in each group due to clinical ASP.

CONCLUSIONS

In patients with cervical DDD and radiculopathy decompression as well as ADR, surgery did not result in better clinical or radiological outcomes after 5 years compared with decompression and fusion surgery.

Clinical trial registration no.: 44347115 (ISRCTN).