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Wang Jeffrey C.; McDonough, Paul W.; Endow, Kevin; Kanim, Linda E. A.; Delamarter, Rick B.
Journal of Spinal Disorders: December 1999


The use of anterior plates for single-level cervical fusions is controversial. Previous studies that evaluated single and multiple-level fusions have shown increased and decreased fusion rates when cervical plates are used. The purpose of this study was to compare the clinical and radiographic success of single-level discectomy performed with and without anterior cervical plate fixation. During a 6-year period, 80 patients were surgically treated with a single-level anterior cervical discectomy. Forty-four patients had cervical plates, whereas 36 had fusions without plates (average follow-up, 2.3 years). The pseudarthrosis rates were 4.5% (2 of 44) for patients with plating and 8.3% (3 of 36) without plating. This difference was not significant (p = 0.653). There was no correlation of pseudarthrosis with sex, age, level of surgery, history of tobacco use, or the presence of previous anterior surgery. The amount of graft collapse for patients with plating was 0.75 mm compared with 1.5 mm for those without a plate (p = 0.026). The amount of kyphotic deformity of the fused segment was 1.2° with plating compared with 1.9° for patients without plating (p = 0.079). Ninety-one percent of the patients with plating had good or excellent results compared with 88% in the group without cervical plates, based on Odom's criteria. The addition of plate fixation for single-level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion is safe and not associated with a significant increase in complication rates. The pseudarthrosis rates are not significantly different when a cervical plate is used.

© 1999 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.