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J Neurosurg Spine. 2014 Feb;20(2):178-82. doi: 10.3171/2013.11.SPINE131. Epub 2013 Dec 13.

Effect of machined interfacet allograft spacers on cervical foraminal height and area.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois; and.

Erratum in

  • J Neurosurg Spine. 2014 Jun;20(6):772.



Iatrogenic foraminal stenosis is a well-known complication in cervical spine surgery. Machined interfacet allograft spacers can provide a large surface area, which ensures solid support, and could potentially increase foraminal space. The authors tested the hypothesis that machined interfacet allograft spacers increase cervical foraminal height and area.


The C4-5, C5-6, and C6-7 facets of 4 fresh adult cadavers were exposed, and the cartilage was removed from each facet using customized rasps. Machined allograft spacers were tamped into the joints. The spines were scanned with the O-arm surgical imaging system before and after placement of the spacers. Two individuals independently measured foraminal height and area on obliquely angled sagittal images.


Foraminal height and area were significantly greater following placement of the machined interfacet spacers at all levels. The Pearson correlation between the 2 radiographic reviewers was very strong (r = 0.971, p = 0.0001), as was the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC = 0.907, p = 0.0001). The average increase in foraminal height was 1.38 mm. The average increase in foraminal area was 18.4% (0.097 cm(2)) [corrected].


Modest distraction of the facets using machined interfacet allograft spacers can increase foraminal height and area and therefore indirectly decompress the exiting nerve roots. This technique can be useful in treating primary foraminal stenosis and also for preventing iatrogenic foraminal stenosis that may occur when the initially nonlordotic spine is placed into lordosis either with repositioning after central canal decompression or with correction using instrumentation. These grafts may be a useful adjunct to the surgical treatment of cervical spine disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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