Traumatic Cervical Unilateral and Bilateral Facet Dislocations Treated With Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion Has a Low Failure Rate

Global Spine J. 2017 Apr;7(2):110-115. doi: 10.1177/2192568217694002. Epub 2017 Apr 6.


Study design: Retrospective radiographic and chart review.

Objective: To define the rate and associated risk factors of treatment failure of anterior cervical fusion for treatment of cervical facet dislocations.

Methods: Between 2004 and 2014, a retrospective review at a single level 1 trauma center identified 38 patients with unilateral or bilateral dislocated facet(s) treated with anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF). Two patients were eliminated due to less than 30-day follow-up. Demographic data, initial neurological exams, surgical data, radiographic findings, and follow-up records were reviewed.

Results: Of the 36 patients with facet dislocations treated with ACDF using a fixed locking plate, 16 were unilateral and 20 were bilateral. The mean age was 35 years (range 13-58). Mean follow-up was 323 days (range 30-1998). There were 3 treatment failures (8%). Three of 7 (43%) endplate fractures failed (P < .01), and 1/28 (4%) facet fractures failed (P = .13). The mean time to failure was 4 weeks (1-7 weeks). One treatment failure had a facet fracture, and all 3 failures had an associated endplate fracture.

Conclusion: Treatment failure occurred in 3 out of 36 (8%) patients with facet fracture dislocations treated with anterior cervical discectomy, fusion, and plating. Rates of failure are lower than has been previously reported. Endplate fractures of the inferior level in jumped facets appears to be a major risk factor of biomechanical failure. However, a facet fracture may not be a risk factor for failure. In the absence of an endplate fracture, ACDF is a reasonable treatment option in patients with single-level cervical facet dislocation.

Keywords: ACDF; cervical dislocation; facet; facet dislocation; facet fracture; jumped facets; perched.