Anterior cervical discectomy without interbody fusion

Jill Wright Donaldson, Paul B. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: The use of an interbody bone graft during anterior cervical discectomy remains a controversial topic. This study presents the outcome of 64 consecutive patients who underwent anterior cervical discectomy without an interbody fusion. METHODS: Sixty-four consecutive patients underwent anterior cervical discectomy without interbody fusion by one surgeon at Indiana University School of Medicine between April 1994 and February 1998. A retrospective analysis of these cases was performed to evaluate outcome of this procedure. Outcome was determined using the criteria of Odom and Finney. RESULTS: In our series of patients, the mean age was 49.4 years, and the mean time of follow-up was 8.5 months. The presentation was as follows: 69% radiculopathy alone, 23% combined myelopathy and radiculopathy, and 8% myelopathy. Although 31% of the patients had symptoms for more than 1 year, the mean duration of symptoms of the remainder of patients was 3.2 months. The majority of patients had single-level disease (77%); however, 25% underwent 2 level discectomies, and 2% underwent 3 level discectomies. Twenty-four patients (38%) had soft disc herniation, and 40 patients (62%) had hard disc herniation. Of the 64 patients, 91% had either good or excellent outcomes, 9% had satisfactory outcomes, and none had a poor result. Ninety-six percent of the patients with soft disc herniation had good or excellent outcomes, whereas 88% of the patients with hard disc had good or excellent outcomes (p = 0.217). Ninety-one percent of the patients who worked before surgery returned to work after their operation. None of the patients required reoperation at the operative level or exhibited instability at the operative level. Postoperative complications included transient intrascapular pain (13%), kyphotic deformity (3%), transient vocal cord paralysis (2%), and temporary dysphagia (2%). No significant difference in age or outcome existed when comparing males to females. CONCLUSION: Satisfactory results can be attained by discectomy without an interbody fusion in the surgical management of cervical disc disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-224
Number of pages6
JournalSurgical Neurology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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