UpToDate: Cervical total disc replacement versus anterior cervical discectomy and fusion

Cervical total disc replacement versus anterior cervical discectomy and fusion

Findlay et al., from London and Edinburgh, researched for cervical total disc replacement versus anterior cervical discectomy and fusion.

Databases including Medline, Embase, and Scopus were searched. Inclusion criteria involved prospective randomized control trials (RCTs) reporting the surgical treatment of patients with symptomatic degenerative cervical disc disease. Two independent investigators extracted the data. The strength of evidence was assessed using the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) criteria. The primary outcome measures were overall and neurological success, and these were included in the meta-analysis. Standardized patient-reported outcomes, including the incidence of further surgery and adjacent segment disease, were summarized and discussed.

A total of 22 papers published from 14 randomized control trials (RCTs) were included, representing 3160 patients with follow-up of up to ten years. Meta-analysis indicated that TDR is superior to ACDF at two years and between four and seven years. In the short-term, patients who underwent TDR had better patient-reported outcomes than those who underwent ACDF, but at two years this was typically not significant. Results between four and seven years showed significant differences in Neck Disability Index (NDI), 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) physical component scores, dysphagia, and satisfaction, all favouring TDR. Most trials found significantly less adjacent segment disease after TDR at both two years (short-term) and between four and seven years (medium- to long-term).

TDR is as effective as ACDF and superior for some outcomes. Disc replacement reduces the risk of adjacent segment disease. Continued uncertainty remains about degeneration of the prosthesis. Long-term surveillance of patients who undergo TDR may allow its routine use 1).


Cervical total disc replacement (TDR) has been shown in a number of prospective clinical studies to be a viable treatment alternative to anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) for symptomatic cervical degenerative disc disease. In addition to preserving motion, evidence suggests that cervical TDR may result in a lower incidence of subsequent surgical intervention than treatment with fusion.

One reason for this trend is the observation that in clinical studies, patients with a history of cervical arthrodesis seem to have a higher incidence of adjacent segment degeneration 2) 3) 4).

Furthermore, in biomechanical investigations, most authors have reported an increase in the segmental range of motion (ROM) and the intradiscal pressure (IDP) in the levels proximal and distal to a simulated mono- or bisegmental arthrodesis 5) 6) 7) 8) 9) 10) 11) 12) 13) 14).

While anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) has been the standard of care for 2-level disease, a randomized clinical trial (RCT) suggested similar outcomes.

There are also critical debates regarding the long-term effects of heterotopic ossification (HO) and the prevalence of adjacent-level degeneration.

1)

Findlay C, Ayis S, Demetriades AK. Total disc replacement versus anterior cervical discectomy and fusion. Bone Joint J. 2018 Aug;100-B(8):991-1001. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.100B8.BJJ-2018-0120.R1. PubMed PMID: 30062947.
2)

Goffin J, Geusens E, Vantomme N, Quintens E, Waerzeggers Y, Depreitere B, et al. Long-term follow-up after interbody fusion of the cervical spine. J Spinal Disord Tech. 2004;17:79–85. doi: 10.1097/00024720-200404000-00001.
3)

Gore DR, Sepic SB. Anterior discectomy and fusion for painful cervical disc disease: a report of 50 patients with an average follow-up of 21 years. Spine. 1998;23:2047–2051. doi: 10.1097/00007632-199810010-00002.
4)

Hilibrand AS, Carlson GD, Palumbo MA, Jones PK, Bohlman H. Radiculopathy and myelopathy at segments adjacent to the site of a previous anterior cervical arthrodesis. J Bone Joint Surg. 1999;81-A:519–528.
5)

Chang U-K, Kim DH, Lee MC, Willenberg R, Kim S-H, Lim J. Changes in adjacent-level disc pressure and facet joint force after cervical arthroplasty compared with cervical discectomy and fusion. J Neurosurg Spine. 2007;7:33–39. doi: 10.3171/SPI-07/07/033.
6)

Chang U-K, Kim DH, Lee MC, Willenberg R, Kim S-H, Lim J. Range of motion change after cervical arthroplasty with ProDisc-C and Prestige artificial discs compared with anterior cervical discectomy and fusion. J Neurosurg Spine. 2007;7:40–46. doi: 10.3171/SPI-07/07/040.
7)

DiAngelo DJ, Foley KT, Morrow BR, Schwab JS, Song J, German JW, et al. In vitro biomechanics of cervical disc arthroplasty with the ProDisc-C total disc implant. Neurosurg Focus. 2004;17(E7):44–54. doi: 10.3171/foc.2004.17.3.7.
8)

DiAngelo DJ, Robertson JT, Metcalf NH, McVay BJ, Davis RC. Biomechanical testing of an artificial cervical joint and an anterior plate. J Spinal Disord Tech. 2003;16:314–323. doi: 10.1097/00024720-200308000-00002.
9)

Dmitriev AE, Cunningham BW, Hu N, Sell G, Vigna F, McAfee PC. Adjacent level intradiscal pressure and segmental kinematics following a cervical total disc arthroplasty. An in vitro human cadaveric model. Spine. 2005;30:1165–1172. doi: 10.1097/01.brs.0000162441.23824.95.
10)

Eck JC, Humphreys SC, Lim T-H, Jeong ST, Kim JG, Hodges SD, et al. Biomechanical study on the effect of cervical spine fusion on adjacent-level intradiscal pressure and segmental motion. Spine. 2002;27:2431–2434. doi: 10.1097/00007632-200211150-00003.
11)

Fuller DA, Kirkpatrick JS, Emery SE. A kinematic study of the cervical spine before and after segmental arthrodesis. Spine. 1998;23:1649–1656. doi: 10.1097/00007632-199808010-00006.
12)

Park D-H, Ramakrishnan P, Cho T-H, Lorenz E, Eck JC, Humphreys SC, et al. Effect of lower two-level anterior cervical fusion on the superior adjacent level. J Neurosurg Spine. 2007;7:336–340. doi: 10.3171/SPI-07/09/336.
13)

Pospiech J, Stolke D, Wilke HJ, Claes LE. Intradiscal pressure recordings in the cervical spine. Neurosurgery. 1999;44:379–384. doi: 10.1097/00006123-199902000-00078.
14)

Ragab AA, Escarcega AJ, Zdeblick TA. A quantitative analysis of strain at adjacent segments after segmental immobilization of the cervical spine. J Spinal Disord Tech. 2006;19:407–410. doi: 10.1097/00024720-200608000-00006.

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