Kyung-Jin Song, Byung-Wan Choi, Taek-Soo Jeon, Kwang-Bok Lee, Han Chang


October 2011, Volume 20, Issue 11, pp 1940 - 1945 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-011-1864-9

First Online: 08 June 2011

Introduction

The purpose of this study was to determine whether fusion causes adjacent segment degeneration or whether degeneration is due to disease progression.

Materials and methods

Eighty-seven patients that had undergone single level anterior cervical decompression and fusions with at least 5 years of follow-up were enrolled in this retrospective study. Segments adjacent to fusion levels (above or below) were allocated to group A, and all others were allocated to group B. Radiographic evaluations of adjacent level changes included assessments of; disc degenerative changes, anterior ossification formation, and segmental instability. The developments of new clinical symptoms were also evaluated.

Results

In group A, adjacent segment degenerative change developed in 28 segments (16%) and two cases (2%) developed new clinical symptoms. In group B, adjacent segment degenerative change developed in 10 segments (3%), and two cases (0.7%) also developed new clinical symptoms. Additional operations were performed in one patient in each group.

Conclusion

Although, fusion per se can accelerate the severity of adjacent level degeneration, no significant difference was observed between adjacent and non-adjacent segments in terms of the incidence of symptomatic disease. The authors conclude that adjacent segment disease is more a result of the natural history of cervical spondylosis than the presence of fusion.


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