Retrospective matched cohort analysis.
The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of adjacent level ossification development (ALOD) on the affected as well as the next-level discs with regards to range of motion (ROM) and degenerative changes.
Summary of Background Data.
Although ALOD is not a rare condition in patients who undergo anterior cervical fusion procedures, there has been little discussion to date about its clinical implications.
Patients who underwent anterior cervical instrumented fusion with a minimum 2-year follow-up were reviewed. Twelve patients with each respective ossification grade (totally 48 patients) were matched based on age, sex, and number of fusion levels. On the preoperative and final follow-up x-rays, disc height, osteophytes, ROM, and maximal listhesis were assessed at the segments which were one- (the adjacent segment) and two-level cranial (the next segment) to the uppermost fused disc. Then, the patients were divided into two groups according to ALOD degree: group 1 (grade 0–1, N = 24) versus group 2 (grade 2–3, N = 24). The changes of all variables were compared between the two groups.
The mean ROM of the adjacent segment increased by 3.6 degree in group 1 and conversely decreased by 2.8 degree in group 2 (P = 0.002). The mean ROM increase of the next segment was significantly greater in group 2 than in group 1 (4.5 vs. 1.2 degree, P = 0.016). The osteophyte growth and the progression of listhesis at the next segment were significantly greater in group 2 (P < 0.05). Disc height of the next segment significantly decreased in group 2, but did not change in group 1.
Severe ALOD (grade 2–3) following anterior cervical fusion significantly reduced ROM at the affected segment and conversely increased motion at the next segment. This increased motion probably accelerated the degeneration of the next-level disc.
Level of Evidence: 3