Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is an established treatment for single-level cervical spondylotic myelopathy and radiculopathy, yet its stand-alone use for multi-level disease of the subaxial cervical spine remains controversial. We report a prospectively studied case series of 30 patients receiving polyetheretherketone (PEEK) cage fusion over three and four cervical levels without anterior plating. Seven (23.3%) four-level procedures (all C3 to C7) were performed, the other 23 (76.7%) being three-level, with 19 (64.4%) at C4 to C7 and four (12.3%) at C3 to C6. Long-term follow-up of more than 2 years was available in 67% of patients. This cohort showed statistically significant improvements in visual analogue score for neck pain (p=0.0006), arm pain (p=0.0003) and Japanese Orthopaedic Association myelopathy score (p=0.002). Fused segment heights increased by 0.6-1.1%. Adjacent segment disease requiring ACDF at C3-4 was seen in 6.7% of patients (one after trauma) at a mean follow-up of 62 months. Same segment recurrence requiring posterior decompression with instrumented fusion was found in 10% of patients at a mean follow-up of 49 months, only one of whom had radiological evidence of cage subsidence. The results suggest the procedure is safe and effective with potentially less morbidity than anterior plating, shorter inpatient stays than posterior approaches, acceptable same segment recurrence and lower than predicted adjacent segment disease rates.
Keywords: ACDF; Adjacent segment disease; Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion; Complications; Long-term follow-up; Multi-level; PEEK.
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