Comparison of Chronic Dysphagia in Standalone versus Conventional Plate and Cage Fusion.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

World Neurosurg


Adult; Aged; Bone Plates; Cervical Vertebrae; Chronic Disease; Cohort Studies; Deglutition Disorders; Diskectomy; Female; Humans; Linear Models; Male; Middle Aged; Multivariate Analysis; Postoperative Complications; Prostheses and Implants; Radiculopathy; Retrospective Studies; Spinal Cord Diseases; Spinal Fusion; Treatment Outcome


INTRODUCTION: Standalone cages have gained popularity because of their ease of implantation, reduced operating time, and lower profile compared with traditional plate and cage systems. The aim of this study was to compare the risk of chronic dysphagia between those who undergwent anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) with traditional plating techniques and those who underwent standalone procedures.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: Between 2014 and 2015, we identified 377 consecutive patients who met the study criteria (standalone, n = 211; plate-cage, n = 166). Patient-specific characteristics and surgical characteristics were collected preoperatively. In addition, the Dysphagia Disability Index (DDI) was collected 2 years postoperatively by telephone interview.

RESULTS: Among the patients who underwent a standalone procedure, 84% (n = 177) were available for their 2-year follow-up visit in comparison with 75% (n = 124) for plate-cage procedures. There was no statistically significant difference in postoperative DDI scores between the 2 groups, controlling for prior surgery and smoking. However, the strongest risk factors for higher DDI scores were prior cervical surgery (mean 6.0 points higher) and smoking (mean 6.2 points higher). Twenty-seven patients (8.9%) experienced chronic dysphagia. The risk was higher in the plate-cage group (n = 15, 12.1%) than in the standalone group (n = 12, 6.7%), but this difference did not reach statistical significance.

CONCLUSION: Despite similar mean DDI scores, patients who undergo anterior cervical discectomy with a plate-cage may be at a higher risk for chronic dysphagia than are those with a standalone approach, but further studies with larger sample sizes are necessary to establish this relationship with greater confidence.

Clinical Institute

Neurosciences (Brain & Spine)