Early Failure of Long Segment Anterior Cervical Plate Fixation

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SummaryA retrospective, multicenter study was undertaken to evaluate the early postoperative failure rate of long segment anterior cervical fusion and plating to stabilize the cervical spine after a two- or three-level corpectomy for degenerative, traumatic, and neoplastic diseases of the cervical spine. Patient demographic factors as well as technical factors such as bone graft placement, plate and screw position, and postoperative brace immobilization were analyzed. During the early postoperative period, the graft/plate construct dislodged in 3 of 33 patients with a two-level corpectomy and fusion (9%) compared with 6 of 12 patients with a three-level corpectomy and fusion (50%). The difference in failure rates after a three- versus two-level corpectomy and fusion was statistically significant (p < 0.05). A higher early failure rate was also seen with failure to correctly lock the screws to the plate and the use of a peg-in-hole type bone grafting technique, although these differences were not statistically significant. Although several technical and patient-specific factors may contribute to this, anterior cervical plating and bone grafting alone after a three-level cervical corpectomy for various spinal disorders appears to afford inadequate stability in the early postoperative period, regardless of immobilization methods.

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