Comparison of outcomes and complications between one- and two-level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion: a population-based study of 410 patients

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Br J Neurosurg. 2021 Nov 25:1-6. doi: 10.1080/02688697.2021.2005778. Online ahead of print.


OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to compare outcomes and patient satisfaction, and secondly to compare complication rates between one- and two-level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) for cervical radiculopathy.

METHODS: Data from patients receiving one- or two-level ACDF for cervical radiculopathy at two institutions were prospectively collected and retrospectively analysed. Patients were separated into one-level ACDF and two-level ACDF. Comparison analyses of patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) comprising Visual Analogue Scale for neck pain (VAS-NP) and arm pain (VAS-AP), Neck Disability Index (NDI), and EQ-5D 3-level version (EQ-5D-3L) were performed between baseline and 1-year follow-up and between groups as well as achievement of minimal clinically important differences (MCID) in PROMs and satisfaction. Additionally, complications were compared between groups.

RESULTS: A total of 410 patients (270 one-level and 140 two-level) were included. PROMs improved significantly from baseline to 1-year follow-up (p < 0.001) in both groups. When comparing PROMs between one- and two-level ACDF, a trend towards greater improvement was observed in patients undergoing one-level ACDF, notably in EQ-5D-3L (p = 0.073). Significantly more patients in the one-level group achieved MCID in VAS-NP compared to patients in the two-level group (56% vs 44%, p = 0.025). Two hundred and ninety-six (67%) patients reported to be satisfied, but the one-level group trended to be more satisfied (70% vs. 62%). One-level ACDF further demonstrated a trend of more favourable complication profiles; however, complication rates were low in both groups. The risk of intraoperative complications was 2.4%, postoperative complications in-hospital were 1.2%, and patient-reported postoperative events post-discharge 42%.

CONCLUSIONS: One- and two-level ACDF are effective procedures for degenerative cervical nerve root compression. Yet, significantly more patients in the one-level group achieved MCID in neck pain compared to patients in the two-level group.

PMID:34821187 | DOI:10.1080/02688697.2021.2005778