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European Spine Journal

, Volume 16, Issue 12, pp 2055–2071 | Cite as

4- and 5-level anterior fusions of the cervical spine: review of literature and clinical results

  • Heiko Koller
  • Axel HempfingEmail author
  • Luis Ferraris
  • Oliver Maier
  • Wolfgang Hitzl
  • Peter Metz-Stavenhagen
Review

Abstract

In the future, there will be an increased number of cervical revision surgeries, including 4- and more-levels. But, there is a paucity of literature concerning the geometrical and clinical outcome in these challenging reconstructions. To contribute to current knowledge, we want to share our experience with 4- and 5-level anterior cervical fusions in 26 cases in sight of a critical review of literature. At index procedure, almost 50% of our patients had previous cervical surgeries performed. Besides failed prior surgeries, indications included degenerative multilevel instability and spondylotic myelopathy with cervical kyphosis. An average of 4.1 levels was instrumented and fused using constrained (26.9%) and non-constrained (73.1%) screw-plate systems. At all, four patients had 3-level corpectomies, and three had additional posterior stabilization and fusion. Mean age of patients at index procedure was 54 years with a mean follow-up intervall of 30.9 months. Preoperative lordosis C2-7 was 6.5° in average, which measured a mean of 15.6° at last follow-up. Postoperative lordosis at fusion block was 14.4° in average, and 13.6° at last follow-up. In 34.6% of patients some kind of postoperative change in construct geometry was observed, but without any catastrophic construct failure. There were two delayed unions, but finally union rate was 100% without any need for the Halo device. Eleven patients (42.3%) showed an excellent outcome, twelve good (46.2%), one fair (3.8%), and two poor (7.7%). The study demonstrated that anterior-only instrumentations following segmental decompressions or use of the hybrid technique with discontinuous corpectomies can avoid the need for posterior supplemental surgery in 4- and 5-level surgeries. However, also the review of literature shows that decreased construct rigidity following more than 2-level corpectomies can demand 360° instrumentation and fusion. Concerning construct rigidity and radiolographic course, constrained plates did better than non-constrained ones. The discussion of our results are accompanied by a detailed review of literature, shedding light on the biomechanical challenges in multilevel cervical procedures and suggests conclusions.

Keywords

Cervical spine Multilevel Fusion Instrumentation 

Abbreviations

ACPs

Anterior cervical plates

ACPS

Anterior cervical plate stabilization

ACDF

Anterior cervical (segmental) decompression/discectomy and fusion

ADD

Adjacent disc disease

CS- and NC-plate

Constrained and non-constrained screw-plate system

CTJ

Cervicothoracic junction

DCI

Degenerative cervical instability

LM-P

Lateral mass plating

LM-CSR

Lateral mass constrained screw-rod system

PACS

Previous anterior cervical spine surgery

RLN

Recurrent laryngeal nerve

TMC

Titanium mesh cage(s)

TCL

Total cervical lordosis C2-7

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heiko Koller
    • 1
    • 3
  • Axel Hempfing
    • 1
    Email author
  • Luis Ferraris
    • 1
  • Oliver Maier
    • 1
  • Wolfgang Hitzl
    • 2
  • Peter Metz-Stavenhagen
    • 1
  1. 1.German Scoliosis CenterBad WildungenHessenGermany
  2. 2.Paracelsus Medical University, Research Office, Biostatistics, SalzburgSalzburgAustria
  3. 3.Katharinenhospital StuttgartStuttgartGermany

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