The aim of this study was to determine the effect of graft type on residual motion and the relationship among residual motion, smoking, and patient-reported outcome (PRO) scores following anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF).
Summary of Background Data.
Although most patients develop solid fusion based on static imaging following ACDF, dynamic imaging has revealed that many patients continue to have residual motion at the arthrodesis.
Forty-eight participants performed dynamic neck flexion/extension and axial rotation within a biplane radiography system 1 year following ACDF (21 one-level, 27 two-level). PRO scores included the Short Form-36, Neck Disability Index, and Cervical Spine Outcomes Questionnaire. An automated model-based tracking process matched subject-specific bone models to the biplane radiographs with sub-millimeter accuracy. Residual motion was measured across the entire arthrodesis site for both one- and two-level fusions in patients who received either allograft or autograft. Patients were divided into “pseudarthrosis” (>3° of flexion/extension residual motion) and “solid fusion” groups. Residual motion and PROs were compared between groups using Student t tests.
Patients who received allograft showed more total flexion/extension residual motion (4.1° vs. 2.8°, P = 0.12), although this failed to reach significance. No differences were noted in PROs based on graft type (all P > 0.08) or the presence of pseudarthrosis (all P > 0.13). No differences were noted in residual motion between smokers and nonsmokers (all P > 0.15); however, smokers who received allograft reported worse outcomes than nonsmokers who received allograft and smokers who received autograft.
Allograft may result in slightly more residual motion at the arthrodesis site 1 year after ACDF. However, there is minimal evidence that PROs are adversely affected by slightly increased residual motion, suggesting that the current definition of pseudarthrosis correlates poorly with clinically significant findings. Additionally, autograft appears to result in superior outcomes in patients who smoke.
Level of Evidence: 2