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Minghao Wang, Dean Chou, Chih-Chang Chang, Ankit Hirpara, Yilin Liu, Andrew K. Chan, Brenton Pennicooke and Praveen V. Mummaneni

OBJECTIVE

Both structural allograft and PEEK have been used for anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF). There are reports that PEEK has a higher pseudarthrosis rate than structural allograft. The authors compared pseudarthrosis, revision, subsidence, and loss of lordosis rates in patients with PEEK and structural allograft.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective review of patients who were treated with ACDF at their hospital between 2005 and 2017. Inclusion criteria were adult patients with either PEEK or structural allograft, anterior plate fixation, and a minimum 2-year follow-up. Exclusion criteria were hybrid PEEK and allograft cases, additional posterior surgery, adjacent corpectomies, infection, tumor, stand-alone or integrated screw and cage devices, bone morphogenetic protein use, or lack of a minimum 2-year follow-up. Demographic variables, number of treated levels, interbody type (PEEK cage vs structural allograft), graft packing material, pseudarthrosis rates, revision surgery rates, subsidence, and cervical lordosis changes were collected. These data were analyzed by Pearson’s chi-square test (or Fisher’s exact test, according to the sample size and expected value) and Student t-test.

RESULTS

A total of 168 patients (264 levels total, mean follow-up time 39.5 ± 24.0 months) were analyzed. Sixty-one patients had PEEK, and 107 patients had structural allograft. Pseudarthrosis rates for 1-level fusions were 5.4% (PEEK) and 3.4% (allograft) (p > 0.05); 2-level fusions were 7.1% (PEEK) and 8.1% (allograft) (p > 0.05); and ≥ 3-level fusions were 10% (PEEK) and 11.1% (allograft) (p > 0.05). There was no statistical difference in the subsidence magnitude between PEEK and allograft in 1-, 2-, and ≥ 3-level ACDF (p > 0.05). Postoperative lordosis loss was not different between cohorts for 1- and 2-level surgeries.

CONCLUSIONS

In 1- and 2-level ACDF with plating involving the same number of fusion levels, there was no statistically significant difference in the pseudarthrosis rate, revision surgery rate, subsidence, and lordosis loss between PEEK cages and structural allograft.

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Minghao Wang, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Zhuo Xi, Chih-Chang Chang, Joshua Rivera, Jeremy Guinn, Rory Mayer and Dean Chou

OBJECTIVE

A consequence of anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is graft subsidence, potentially leading to kyphosis, nonunion, foraminal stenosis, and recurrent pain. Bone density, as measured in Hounsfield units (HUs) on CT, may be associated with subsidence. The authors evaluated the association between HUs and subsidence rates after ACDF.

METHODS

A retrospective study of patients treated with single-level ACDF at the University of California, San Francisco, from 2008 to 2017 was performed. HU values were measured according to previously published methods. Only patients with preoperative CT, minimum 1-year follow-up, and single-level ACDF were included. Patients with posterior surgery, tumor, infection, trauma, deformity, or osteoporosis treatment were excluded. Changes in segmental height were measured at 1-year follow-up compared with immediate postoperative radiographs. Subsidence was defined as segmental height loss of more than 2 mm.

RESULTS

A total of 91 patients met inclusion criteria. There was no significant difference in age or sex between the subsidence and nonsubsidence groups. Mean HU values in the subsidence group (320.8 ± 23.9, n = 8) were significantly lower than those of the nonsubsidence group (389.1 ± 53.7, n = 83, p < 0.01, t-test). There was a negative correlation between the HU values and segmental height loss (Pearson’s coefficient −0.735, p = 0.01). Using receiver operating characteristic curves, the area under the curve was 0.89, and the most appropriate threshold of HU value was 343.7 (sensitivity 77.1%, specificity 87.5%). A preoperative lower HU is a risk factor for postoperative subsidence (binary logistic regression, p < 0.05). The subsidence rate and distance between allograft and polyetheretherketone (PEEK) materials were not significantly different (PEEK 0.9 ± 0.7 mm, allograft 1.0 ± 0.7 mm; p > 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS

Lower preoperative CT HU values are associated with cage subsidence in single-level ACDF. Preoperative measurement of HUs may be useful in predicting outcomes after ACDF.