Generation and Development of Paravertebral Ossification in Cervical Artificial Disk Replacement: A Detailed Analytic Report Using Coronal Reconstruction CT

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Study Design:

A retrospective follow-up study and review of images in published papers.


To determine whether true heterotopic ossification (HO) occurs in artificial disk replacement (ADR); to evaluate the incidence of paravertebral ossification (PO) and its influence on ADR.

Summary of Background Data:

HO is typically defined as the abnormal formation of true bone within extraskeletal soft tissues. However, HO in ADR does not fit this definition precisely, as it originates from vertebral body, making it hard to distinguish radiologically from preexisting osteophytes. In this study, the term used for bone formation around ADR is PO.


First, all images in the published papers were evaluated as to whether the presented PO in ADR fit the classic definition of HO or osteophytes. Second, we studied 37 consecutive patients who underwent ADR and follow-up for minimum 24 months. The preoperative and follow-up incidence of PO and its influence on range of motion were evaluated using x-ray and computed tomography.


All 52 images of PO were found adjacent to the disk in 1 segment rather than entire cervical spine. Fifty (96.2%) of the POs were found to originate from the vertebral body rather than in the soft tissue. A total of 31 patients were included in the follow-up study. No significant difference was found in the incidence of PO between the follow-up and preoperation (61.29% vs. 48.39%, P>0.05). The range of motion of the ADR segment in patients with progressed PO (7.44±4.64 degrees) was significantly lower than that of patients with stable PO grade (12.13±4.42 degrees, P<0.01) at last follow-up.


A proportion of HO might in fact be the natural development of preoperative osteophytes, which is unrelated to ADR; the remaining HO might be due to changes in biomechanical environment after surgery, which promotes the grade of osteophytes and affects the segment motion.

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