Differences between soft-disc herniation and spondylosis in cervical arthroplasty: CT-documented heterotopic ossification with minimum 2 years of follow-up

J Neurosurg Spine. 2012 Feb;16(2):163-71. doi: 10.3171/2011.10.SPINE11497. Epub 2011 Dec 2.


Object: Cervical arthroplasty is a valid option for patients with single-level symptomatic cervical disc diseases causing neural tissue compression, but postoperative heterotopic ossification (HO) can limit the mobility of an artificial disc. In the present study the authors used CT scanning to assess HO formation, and they investigated differences in radiological and clinical outcomes in patients with either a soft-disc herniation or spondylosis who underwent cervical arthroplasty.

Methods: Medical records, radiographs, and clinical evaluations of consecutive patients who underwent single-level cervical arthroplasty were reviewed. Arthroplasty was performed using the Bryan disc. The patients were divided into a soft-disc herniation group and a spondylosis group. Clinical outcomes were measured using the visual analog scale (VAS) for neck and arm pain and the Neck Disability Index (NDI), whereas HO grading was determined by studying CT scans. Radiological and clinical outcomes were analyzed, and the minimum follow-up duration was 24 months.

Results: Forty-seven consecutive patients underwent a single-level cervical arthroplasty. Forty patients (85.1%) had complete radiological evaluations and clinical follow-up of more than 2 years. Patients were divided into 1 of 2 groups: soft-disc herniation (16 cases) and the spondylosis group (24 cases). Their mean age was 45.51 ± 11.12 years. Sixteen patients (40%) were female. Patients in the soft-disc herniation group were younger than those in the spondylosis group, but the difference was not statistically significant (42.88 vs 47.26, p = 0.227). The mean follow-up duration was 38.83 ± 9.74 months. Sex, estimated blood loss, implant size, and perioperative NSAID prescription were not significantly different between the groups (p = 0.792, 0.267, 0.581, and 1.000, respectively). The soft-disc herniation group had significantly less HO formation than the spondylosis group (1 HO [6.25%] vs 14 Hos [58.33%], p = 0.001). Almost all artificial discs in both groups remained mobile (100% and 95.8%, p = 0.408). The clinical outcomes were not significantly different between the groups at all postoperative time points of evaluation, and clinical improvements were also similar.

Conclusions: Clinical outcomes of single-level cervical arthroplasty for soft-disc herniation and spondylosis were similar 3 years after surgery. There was a significantly higher rate of HO formation in patients with spondylosis than in those with a soft-disc herniation. The mobility of the artificial disc is maintained, but the long-term effects of HO and its higher frequency in spondylotic cases warrant further investigation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / diagnostic imaging
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ossification, Heterotopic / diagnostic imaging*
  • Postoperative Complications / diagnostic imaging*
  • Spondylosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Spondylosis / surgery*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*
  • Total Disc Replacement*
  • Treatment Outcome