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Surg Neurol Int. 2012;3(Suppl 3):S143-56. doi: 10.4103/2152-7806.98575. Epub 2012 Jul 17.

Iliac crest autograft versus alternative constructs for anterior cervical spine surgery: Pros, cons, and costs.

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1
Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery, The Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, N.Y. 10451, and Chief of Neurosurgical Spine and Education, Winthrop University Hospital, Mineola, N.Y. 11501.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Grafting choices available for performing anterior cervical diskectomy/fusion (ACDF) procedures have become a major concern for spinal surgeons, and their institutions. The "gold standard", iliac crest autograft, may still be the best and least expensive grafting option; it deserves to be reassessed along with the pros, cons, and costs for alternative grafts/spacers.

METHODS:

Although single or multilevel ACDF have utilized iliac crest autograft for decades, the implant industry now offers multiple alternative grafting and spacer devices; (allografts, cages, polyether-etherketone (PEEK) amongst others). While most studies have focused on fusion rates and clinical outcomes following ACDF, few have analyzed the "value-added" of these various constructs (e.g. safety/efficacy, risks/complications, costs).

RESULTS:

The majority of studies document 95%-100% fusion rates when iliac crest autograft is utilized to perform single level ACDF (X-ray or CT confirmed at 6-12 postoperative months). Although many allograft studies similarly quote 90%-100% fusion rates (X-ray alone confirmed at 6-12 postoperative months), a recent "post hoc analysis of data from a prospective multicenter trial" (Riew KD et. al., CSRS Abstract Dec. 2011; unpublished) revealed a much higher delayed fusion rate using allografts at one year 55.7%, 2 years 87%, and four years 92%.

CONCLUSION:

Iliac crest autograft utilized for single or multilevel ACDF is associated with the highest fusion, lowest complication rates, and significantly lower costs compared with allograft, cages, PEEK, or other grafts. As spinal surgeons and institutions become more cost conscious, we will have to account for the "value added" of these increasingly expensive graft constructs.

KEYWORDS:

Allograft; anterior cervical spine surgery; cages; costs; efficacy; explantation; iliac crest autograft; polyether-etherketone; single-level diskectomy/fusion (1-level ACDF)

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