Introduction: Anterior cervical fusion (ACF) is a commonly performed surgery in various centers throughout the country. A range of outcomes and complications have been reported in the literature. We decided to look at our institutional data to assess how we compared with other national groups in terms of outcomes and complications
Methods: We retrospectively identified 655 patients who had undergone anterior cervical fusion by a single neurosurgeon from July 1994 to March 2010. Patient data sheets were collected preoperatively and at 6 and 12 weeks postoperatively. The indications for surgery were divided into 3 groups: radiculopathy, stenosis and other (trauma, infection, tumor). Outcomes were assessed as either satisfactory or unsatisfactory (failure of symptomatic improvement or development of complication)
Results: Out of the 655 patients, 268 (41%) had radiculopathy, 338 (52%) had stenosis and 49 (7%) were operated on for reasons other than the first two. Satisfactory outcomes were measured in each group and reported to be 246 (92%), 285 (85%), 30 (63%) in patients with radiculopathy, stenosis and other respectively. Overall complication rate for ACF was 7%. Complications measured in each group were reported to be 9 (3%), 32 (9%), 7 (13%) in patients with radiculopathy, stenosis and other respectively.
Conclusions: The limitations of this analysis were the lack of an objective neurological scale to measure satisfaction and a wide variety of complications including reoperation, persistent dysphagia, failure to fuse, were included in our analysis without being divided into subgroups. However, we feel that this study provides valuable information about the variability of outcome of a very common neurosurgical procedure and forms the basis of a strong prospective study to be conducted in the future.
Patient Care: provide better data to present to a patient prior to surgery for informed consent
Learning Objectives: measure the outcomes and complications of anterior cervical decompression