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Surg Neurol. 2009 Sep;72(3):266-70; discussion 270-1. doi: 10.1016/j.surneu.2008.08.081. Epub 2009 Jan 14.

Dysphagia due to anterior cervical hyperosteophytosis.

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University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI, 3552 Taubman Center, Box 0338, 1500 East Medical Center Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.



Anterior cervical hyperosteophytosis describes the excessive formation of osteophytes along the ventral spine. Dysphagia due to ACH is considered an uncommon entity described mainly in case reports. Symptomatic ACH has been attributed to multiple etiologies including DISH, trauma, postlaminectomy syndromes, and cervical spondylosis. We report one of the largest series of patients with ACH-induced dysphagia requiring surgery.


After IRB approval, a retrospective chart review was completed. From 2001 to 2006, 9 patients presented with dysphagia due to ACH requiring surgical treatment.


Eight patients were male, and the mean age was 65.1 years. Cervical spine x-rays and CT clearly demonstrated ACH in each case. Esophagram or a video fluoroscopic swallowing study was used to verify that dysphagia was caused by osteophytic overgrowth in all instances but one. In 2 patients, a focal osteophyte had formed adjacent to a previously fused segment. Of the remaining 7 patients, osteophytic formation was attributed to cervical spondylosis in 2 patients and DISH in 5 patients. All patients underwent osteophytectomy without spinal fusion. Average follow-up was 9.8 months. Although all 9 patients experienced resolution of dysphagia, improvement was delayed in 2 patients.


Diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis and spondylosis are the most common etiologies accounting for ACH-induced dysphagia. Adjacent segment disease may also be a potential cause of symptomatic ACH and has not been previously reported. Regardless of etiology, surgical resection is highly successful if conservative measures fail.

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