In cases of spondylosis or spine trauma, cervical interbody grafts are sometimes required after anterior discectomy. To avoid morbidity related to the harvesting of iliac crest bone, numerous materials have been developed such as allografts, methylmethacrylate, biocompatible osteoconductive polymer, and coralline grafts or cages. Some of these materials, however, are inefficient for fusion or are associated with specific complications. Conversely, hydroxyapatite (HA) grafts have numerous advantages. For example, their mechanical properties provide adequate load resistance and their porosity allows infiltration by newly formed bone, leading to complete fusion. The authors studied the results of using HA grafts combined with plating in patients who underwent anterior cervical discectomy.
Fifty-four patients underwent 68 cervical interbody fusion procedures in which an HA graft and plating were used. Indications for surgery were radiculopathy (caused by soft-disc herniation or spondylosis) in 46 cases, spondylotic myelopathy in two cases, and spinal trauma in six cases. Postoperatively the patients were followed for a mean of 24.6 months. Patients underwent radiography to evaluate fusion, intervertebral disc height, and the degree of lordosis.
Clinically, excellent or good results (based on the Odon classification) were demonstrated in 91% of patients who presented with radiculopathy. Complete interbody fusion was achieved in 99% of all cases. Preoperative kyphotic deformities were corrected in all cases after surgery. Intervertebral disc height was maintained throughout follow up. Surgery-related morbidity was low; only one patient suffered from a permanent dysphagia. Graft deterioration was observed in 13 cases and two graft fractures occurred but without adversely affecting fusion. There were no cases of graft extrusion.
Hydroxyapatite grafts are very efficient in achieving cervical fusion, maintaining intervertebral disc height, and restoring lordosis. When combined with the placement of a cervical plate, immediate stability is achieved and graft displacement is prevented.