Up to 10-year surveillance comparison of survivability in single-level cervical disc replacement versus anterior cervical discectomy and fusion in New York

J Neurosurg Spine. 2023 Apr 21;39(2):206-215. doi: 10.3171/2023.3.SPINE221377. Print 2023 Aug 1.


Objective: Cervical disc replacement (CDR) is an alternative treatment to anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF), which is the current gold standard, for degenerative cervical diseases such as cervical spondylotic myelopathy and cervical radiculopathy. CDR has several theoretical benefits over ACDF, including preservation of motion, earlier return to unrestricted activity, and potentially a lower risk of adjacent-segment disease. Recent literature has reported positive clinical results for CDR, but few studies have investigated the long-term risk of revision surgery of CDR versus ACDF. The purpose of this study was to identify and analyze the epidemiological, clinical, and operative risk factors that affect revision rates following single-level CDR and ACDF procedures.

Methods: A retrospective cohort was extracted from the Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System using ICD-9 and CPT codes. Inclusion criteria were adult patients undergoing primary, subaxial (C3-7), single-level ACDF or CDR for cervical radiculopathy and/or cervical spondylotic myelopathy between 2005 and 2013. Survivability was defined as the time between the index procedure and the presence of a subsequent discharge record for cervical spinal fusion or disc replacement. Statistical analyses were performed using chi-square tests, t-tests, Cox proportional hazards models, and a Kaplan-Meier plot.

Results: A total of 7450 patients were included in this study (6615 ACDF and 835 CDR). When adjusted for patient demographics, the hazard ratios showed no significant differences in the incidence of revision risk between the two cohorts. The CDR cohort had a higher incidence of postoperative dysphagia (p < 0.05). Patients undergoing ACDF had a longer average hospital stay (2.8 vs 1.9 days, p < 0.001). There was no significant difference in time to revision surgery (p = 0.486).

Conclusions: CDR and ACDF have both been shown to be effective treatments for cervical spine disease. CDR patients had a shorter average inpatient hospital stay compared with ACDF patients but tended to experience dysphagia more frequently. There was a tendency toward increased survivability of CDR; however, this was not found to be statistically significant at any time point. The large size and heterogeneity of each cohort and the availability of > 10 years of surveillance data differentiate this study from other published literature. This investigation has limitations inherent to large data analysis studies, including the implementation and inaccuracy of diagnosis and procedural coding; however, this reflects real-world use of coding by practitioners.

Keywords: adjacent-segment disease; anterior cervical discectomy and fusion; artificial cervical disc; cervical disc arthroplasty; revision risk; survivability.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cervical Vertebrae / surgery
  • Deglutition Disorders*
  • Diskectomy / adverse effects
  • Diskectomy / methods
  • Humans
  • Intervertebral Disc Degeneration* / surgery
  • New York
  • Radiculopathy* / surgery
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Cord Diseases* / surgery
  • Spinal Fusion* / adverse effects
  • Spinal Fusion* / methods
  • Spinal Osteophytosis* / surgery
  • Total Disc Replacement* / adverse effects
  • Total Disc Replacement* / methods
  • Treatment Outcome