Safety and effectiveness of bone allografts in anterior cervical discectomy and fusion surgery

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2011 Nov 15;36(24):2045-50. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e3181ff37eb.


Study design: Systematic review.

Objective: The primary aim of this review was to evaluate clinical and radiographic outcomes in studies of anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) using allograft versus ACDF with autograft, ACDF with cage devices, and cervical disc arthroplasty for the treatment of symptomatic cervical disc disease.

Summary of background data: ACDF remains the standard of care for patients with cervical radiculopathy who are unresponsive to conservative medical care. However, no known study has compared patient outcomes after ACDF with allograft, ACDF with autograft, ACDF with cage, and disc arthroplasty.

Methods: After applying strict inclusion criteria, 21 comparisons from 20 studies formed the basis for this review. Patient outcomes included neck and arm pain, neck disability index (NDI), physical component summary (PCS), and mental component summary (MCS) scores from the SF-36, radiographic fusion rate, and select adverse events (e.g., wound infection, dysphagia, and adjacent segment degeneration).

Results: The four treatment groups included ACDF with allograft (allograft, n = 1341), ACDF with autograft (autograft, n = 568), ACDF with cage (cage, n = 87), and cervical disc arthroplasty (arthroplasty, n = 603). Neck pain was reduced similarly by 63% to 69% in all groups. Comparable improvements were realized in arm pain after ACDF with allograft (75%) or arthroplasty (73%) that were greater than other treatment groups (62-68%). There was notable improvement in neck disability (61-65%) with allograft and arthroplasty after treatment. PCS scores improved with allograft (42%) and arthroplasty (44%). MCS scores improved modestly (16-21%) with allograft and arthroplasty. Fusion rates were 91% for allograft and autograft and 97% for cage. Adverse events were uncommon in all groups.

Conclusion: ACDF with allograft, ACDF with autograft, ACDF with cage, and cervical disc arthroplasty show similar improvements in pain, function, and quality of life with correspondingly low adverse event rates. All ACDF procedures result in high fusion rates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone Transplantation / methods*
  • Cervical Vertebrae / surgery*
  • Diskectomy / instrumentation
  • Diskectomy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Radiculopathy / surgery
  • Spinal Fusion / instrumentation
  • Spinal Fusion / methods*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Transplantation, Autologous
  • Transplantation, Homologous