Allograft Bone Use in Pediatric Subaxial Cervical Spine Fusions

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The use of freeze-dried allograft as a bone graft substitute for pediatric spine surgery is safe and efficacious in the thoracic and lumbar spines. Allograft bone use in segmental instrumented fusions in the subaxial cervical spine has not been well reported in the literature. We sought to describe our experience with allograft bone in this patient cohort, and to compare union rates to patients treated with autograft.


Medical records were queried over a 10-year time period (2004 to 2014). Inclusion criteria were all pediatric patients (18 y old and below) who underwent subaxial cervical spine fusion with minimum follow-up of 24 months. Variables queried included demographics, type of graft material used, diagnosis, approach (anterior, posterior, combined), levels instrumented, placement of postoperative halo, surgical-related complications, and achievement of fusion.


A total of 26 patients qualified for inclusion (18 allograft, 8 autograft). No differences existed between the 2 groups regarding age, sex, or number of fused levels. In the allograft cohort, average age at initial surgery was 13.3 years (range, 5 to 18 y). The most common reasons for surgery included trauma (6), tumor (3), and syndrome-associated kyphosis (3). The average number of instrumented levels was 4 (range, 2 to 13). Four patients (22%) developed a postoperative surgical complication. There were 2 asymptomatic pseudarthroses not requiring revision. At a minimum of 24-month follow-up (average, 45 mo; range, 24 to 121 mo), the allograft group demonstrated a fusion rate of 88%, which was comparable with a fusion rate of 87% in the autograft group.


The use of allograft bone for pediatric subaxial instrumented cervical spine fusions is safe in a variety of conditions, with the same rate of fusion as autograft. Rates of complications are acceptable. To avoid donor-site morbidity from autogenous graft harvest, we recommend considering allograft bone in subaxial cervical spine fusions with modern segmental instrumentation.

Level of Evidence:

Level IV—case series; therapeutic.

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