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.
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%.
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.
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.