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S. Harrison Farber, Soumya Sagar, Jakub Godzik, James J. Zhou, Corey T. Walker, Kaveh Khajavi, Jay D. Turner, and Juan S. Uribe

OBJECTIVE

Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) used at the lumbosacral junction provides arthrodesis for several indications. The anterior approach allows restoration of lumbar lordosis, an important goal of surgery. With hyperlordotic ALIF implants, several options may be employed to obtain the desired amount of lordosis. In this study, the authors compared the degree of radiographic lordosis achieved with lordotic and hyperlordotic ALIF implants at the L5–S1 segment.

METHODS

All patients undergoing L5–S1 ALIF from 2 institutions over a 4-year interval were included. Patients < 18 years of age or those with any posterior decompression or osteotomy were excluded. ALIF implants in the lordotic group had 8° or 12° of inherent lordosis, whereas implants in the hyperlordotic group had 20° or 30° of lordosis. Upright standing radiographs were used to determine all radiographic parameters, including lumbar lordosis, segmental lordosis, disc space lordosis, and disc space height. Separate analyses were performed for patients who underwent single-segment fixation at L5–S1 and for the overall cohort.

RESULTS

A total of 204 patients were included (hyperlordotic group, 93 [45.6%]; lordotic group, 111 [54.4%]). Single-segment ALIF at L5–S1 was performed in 74 patients (hyperlordotic group, 27 [36.5%]; lordotic group, 47 [63.5%]). The overall mean ± SD age was 61.9 ± 12.3 years; 58.3% of patients (n = 119) were women. The mean number of total segments fused was 3.2 ± 2.6. Overall, 66.7% (n = 136) of patients had supine surgery and 33.3% (n = 68) had lateral surgery. Supine positioning was significantly more common in the hyperlordotic group than in the lordotic group (83.9% [78/93] vs 52.3% [58/111], p < 0.001). After adjusting for differences in surgical positioning, the change in lumbar lordosis was significantly greater for hyperlordotic versus lordotic implants (3.6° ± 7.5° vs 0.4° ± 7.5°, p = 0.048) in patients with single-level fusion. For patients receiving hyperlordotic versus lordotic implants, changes were also significantly greater for segmental lordosis (12.4° ± 7.5° vs 8.4° ± 4.9°, p = 0.03) and disc space lordosis (15.3° ± 5.4° vs 9.3° ± 5.8°, p < 0.001) after single-level fusion at L5–S1. The change in disc space height was similar for these 2 groups (p = 0.23).

CONCLUSIONS

Hyperlordotic implants provided a greater degree of overall lumbar lordosis restoration as well as L5–S1 segmental and disc space lordosis restoration than lordotic implants. The change in disc space height was similar. Differences in lateral and supine positioning did not affect these parameters.

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S. Harrison Farber, David J. Mauler, Soumya Sagar, Mark A. Pacult, Corey T. Walker, Michael A. Bohl, Laura A. Snyder, Kristina M. Chapple, Volker K. H. Sonntag, Juan S. Uribe, Jay D. Turner, Steve W. Chang, and U. Kumar Kakarla

OBJECTIVE

Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is a common and robust procedure performed on the cervical spine. Literature on ACDF for 4 or more segments is sparse. Increasing the number of operative levels increases surgical complexity, tissue retraction, and risks of complications, particularly dysphagia. The overall risks of these complications and rates of dysphagia are not well studied for surgery on 4 or more segments. In this study, the authors evaluated their institution’s perioperative experience with 4- and 5-level ACDFs.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed patients who underwent 4- or 5-level ACDF at their institution over a 6-year period (May 2013–May 2019). Patient demographics, perioperative complications, readmission rates, and swallowing outcomes were recorded. Outcomes were analyzed with a multivariate linear regression.

RESULTS

A total of 174 patients were included (167 had 4-level and 7 had 5-level ACDFs). The average age was 60.6 years, and 54.0% of patients (n = 94) were men. A corpectomy was performed in 12.6% of patients (n = 22). After surgery, 56.9% of patients (n = 99) experienced dysphagia. The percentage of patients with dysphagia decreased to 22.8% (37/162) at 30 days, 12.9% (17/132) at 90 days, and 6.3% (5/79) and 2.8% (1/36) at 1 and 2 years, respectively. Dysphagia was more likely at 90 days postoperatively in patients with gastroesophageal reflux (OR 4.4 [95% CI 1.5–12.8], p = 0.008), and the mean (± SD) lordosis change was greater in patients with dysphagia than those without at 90 days (19.8° ± 13.3° vs 9.1° ± 10.2°, p = 0.003). Dysphagia occurrence did not differ with operative implants, including graft and interbody type. The mean length of time to solid food intake was 2.4 ± 2.1 days. Patients treated with dexamethasone were more likely to achieve solid food intake prior to discharge (OR 4.0 [95% CI 1.5–10.6], p = 0.004). Postsurgery, 5.2% of patients (n = 9) required a feeding tube due to severe approach-related dysphagia. Other perioperative complication rates were uniformly low. Overall, 8.6% of patients (n = 15) returned to the emergency department within 30 days and 2.9% (n = 5) required readmission, whereas 1.1% (n = 2) required unplanned return to surgery within 30 days.

CONCLUSIONS

This is the largest series of patients undergoing 4- and 5-level ACDFs reported to date. This procedure was performed safely with minimal intraoperative complications. More than half of the patients experienced in-hospital dysphagia, which increased their overall length of stay, but dysphagia decreased over time.