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A Concomitant Posterior Approach Improves Fusion Rates but not Overall Reoperation Rates in Multilevel Cervical Fusion for Spondylosis

Sembrano, Jonathan N. MD; Mehbod, Amir A. MD; Garvey, Timothy A. MD; Denis, Francis MD; Perra, Joseph H. MD; Schwender, James D. MD; Transfeldt, Ensor E. MD; Winter, Robert B. MD; Wroblewski, Jill M. MS

Journal of Spinal Disorders & Techniques: May 2009 - Volume 22 - Issue 3 - p 162-169
doi: 10.1097/BSD.0b013e318175d821
Original Articles

Study Design Retrospective comparative study of 2 approaches to multilevel fusion for cervical spondylosis in consecutive patients at a single institution.

Objective To provide justification for a concomitant posterior approach in multilevel cervical fusion for spondylosis by demonstrating decreased pseudarthrosis and reoperation rates.

Summary of Background Data Among the factors that affect cervical rates is the number of levels, such that increasing the number of levels leads to lower fusion rates. Because of this, modifications have been sought to improve union in multilevel procedures. One option is an antero-posterior (AP) approach or circumferential arthrodesis.

Methods Seventy-eight consecutive patients who underwent multilevel cervical fusion at a single institution and with minimum 2-year follow-up data were divided into an anterior-only group (anterior: n=55), and an AP group (AP: n=23). Union was assessed by surgical exploration, computerized tomography scan, and flexion-extension radiographs. The groups were compared in terms of pseudarthrosis rates and reoperation rates.

Results Using χ2 analysis, there was a significant difference in pseudarthrosis rates (anterior 38% vs. AP 0%; P<0.001), and reoperation rate for pseudarthrosis (anterior 22% vs. AP 0%; P=0.01). There were no differences in overall (anterior 36% vs. AP 30%; P=0.62) and early (anterior 15% vs. AP 26%; P=0.13) reoperation rates, but late reoperations were increased in the anterior group (24% vs. AP 4%; P=0.043).

Conclusions A concomitant posterior fusion significantly reduced the incidence of pseudarthrosis (0% vs. 38%) and pseudarthrosis-related reoperations (0% vs. 22%) compared with traditional anterior-only fusion. However, this did not translate to a difference in overall reoperation rates. The majority of reoperations in the AP group (86%) were performed within 6 months, whereas those in the anterior-only group (65%) were performed later, which was generally when a pseudarthrosis became evident.

Twin Cities Spine Center, Minneapolis, MN

Reprints: Robert B. Winter, MD, Twin Cities Spine Center, 913 East 26th Street, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55404-4515 (e-mail:

Received for publication January 3, 2008; accepted March 19, 2008

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.