Arup K. Bhadra, A. S. Raman, Adrian T. H. Casey, R. J. Crawford

February 2009, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 232 - 237 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-008-0866-8

First Online: 09 January 2009

Although there are several accepted methods of surgical treatment for single-level cervical radiculopathy, the choice depend on the surgeon’s preference. The techniques may vary in peri-operative morbidity, short- and long-term outcome, but no study so far has analyzed their cost-effectiveness. This study might give some insight in balancing cost and effectiveness and deciding the right technique. Sixty consecutive patients (15 each group), mean age 36 (range 24–76 years) with single-level cervical disc disease underwent surgical treatment with four different techniques in two centers over the period of 1999–2005. The four groups were—(1) plate and tricortical autograft, (2) plate, cage, and bone substitute, (3) cage only, and (4) disc arthroplasty. The data was collected prospectively according to our protocol and subsequently analyzed. The clinical outcome was assessed comparing visual analog scale (VAS) of neck pain and, short form 12 (SF12) questionnaire both pre- and postoperatively. The radiological assessment was done for fusion rate and postoperative related possible complications at 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, and final follow-up. The cost analysis was done calculating the operative time, hospital stay, implant cost together. The mean follow-up period was 31 months (range 28–43 months). The clinical outcome in terms of VAS of neck and arm pain and SF12 physical and mental score improvement (P = 0.001) were comparable with all four techniques. The radiological fusion rate was comparable to current available data. As the hospital stay was longer (average 5 days) with plate and autograft group, the total cost was maximum (average £2,920) with this group. There was satisfactory clinical and radiological outcome with all four techniques. Using the cage alone was the most cost-effective technique, but the disc arthroplasty was comparable to the use of cage and plate. Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion is an established surgical treatment for cervical radiculopathy. Single-level cervical radiculopathy was treated with four different techniques. The clinical outcome and cost-effectiveness were compared in this study.

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