Anterior Cervical Foraminotomy and Fusion|Surgical Technique and Results

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Abstract

Study Design

This study retrospectively reviewed the clinical and radiographic results of a series of patients who underwent osteophyte resection during anterior discectomy and fusion.

Objective

To determine whether resection of the posterior uncinate process at the time of anterior cervical discectomy is safe and effective.

Summary of Background Data

Previous studies have described techniques of osteophyte resection, but safety and outcome have not been supported by a clinical series of patients.

Methods

Forty-three consecutive patients with radiculopathy due to spondylosis or lateral herniated nucleus pulposus had 68 foraminotomies done at the time of anterior cervical disc foraminotomy for radiculopathy. All patients were followed-up until radiographic union. All patients were examined, and Odom's criteria were used to assess postoperative pain and function in the neck, arm, and iliac donor site.

Results

The results were consistent with previous reports of anterior cervical disc foraminotomy for radiculopathy. Excellent and good results occurred in 77% and 14% of the patients, respectively. Three patients had no relief and no patient had worsening of radiculopathy. The fusion rate was 93%. Thirty-one patients (72%) reported being very satisfied. Three patients required a re-operation–one for bone graft dislodgment and two for pseudoarthrosis. No vascular injuries occurred.

Conclusions

Resection of the posterior portion of the uncinate process to remove osteophytes that narrow the neural foramen or to allow direct visualization of laterally herniated disc material can be done safely. When combined with an autogenous interbody bone graft, good results can be expected.

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