Comparison of Surgical Outcomes, Narcotics Utilization, and Costs After an Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion: Stand-alone Cage Versus Anterior Plating

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Study Design:

Retrospective cohort analysis of a prospectively maintained registry.


To compare the surgical outcomes, narcotic utilization, and costs between a stand-alone (SA) cage and anterior plating (AP) with an interbody device for 1-level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF).

Background Data:

ACDF with a SA cage has gained popularity as a potential alternative to anterior cervical plating. Few studies have compared the surgical outcomes, narcotic utilization, and costs of ACDF utilizing a SA cage versus AP with an interbody device.


Patients who underwent a primary 1-level ACDF for degenerative spinal pathology between 2010 and 2013 were analyzed. Patients were stratified on the basis of the type of implant system (SA cage vs. AP) and assessed with regard to demographics, comorbidities, smoking, visual analogue scale (VAS) scores (preoperative/postoperative), procedural time, estimated blood loss (EBL), length of hospitalization, complications, reoperations, narcotic consumption, and total costs. Statistical analysis was performed with independent sample T tests for continuous variables and χ2 analysis for categorical data. An α level of <0.05 denoted statistical significance.


Of the 93 patients included, 52 (55.9%) underwent an ACDF with a SA cage system. Patient demographics, comorbidity burden, body mass index, smoking status, and preoperative VAS score were similar between cohorts. The SA cohort incurred a significantly lower EBL (P<0.001) than the AP cohort. However, none required a transfusion and the procedural time, length of hospitalization, postoperative VAS score, complication rates, 1-year arthrodesis rate, and reoperation rates were similar between cohorts. Postoperative narcotics consumption and total costs were also similar between groups.


Our findings suggest that the SA cage may be associated with a significantly lower EBL, which may not be clinically relevant. Perioperative outcomes, complications, reoperation rates, narcotics consumption in the immediate postoperative period, and total costs may be similar regardless of the instrumentation utilized in a 1-level ACDF.

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