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Asian Spine J. 2017 Feb;11(1):50-56. doi: 10.4184/asj.2017.11.1.50. Epub 2017 Feb 17.

A Sternum-Disk Distance Method to Identify the Skin Level for Approaching a Surgical Segment without Fluoroscopy Guidance during Anterior Cervical Discectomy And Fusion.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Yeungnam University Hospital, Yeungnam University College of Medicine, Daegu, Korea.
Spine Center and Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Pohang Semyeng Christianty Hospital, Pohang, Korea.
Spine Center and Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Sungnam, Korea.



A retrospective review of prospectively collected data.


To introduce the sternum-disk distance (SDD) method for approaching the exact surgical level without C-arm guidance during anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) surgery and to evaluate its accuracy and reliability.


Although spine surgeons have tried to optimize methods for identifying the skin level for accessing the operative disk level without C-arm guidance during ACDF, success has rarely been reported.


In total, 103 patients who underwent single-level ACDF surgery with the SDD method were enrolled. The primary outcome measure was the accuracy of the SDD method. The secondary outcome measures were the mean SDD value at each cervical level from the cranial margin of the sternum in the neutral and extension positions of the cervical spine and the inter- and intra-observer reliability of the SDD outcome determined using repeated measurements by three orthopedic spine surgeons.


The SDD accuracy (primary outcome measure) was indicated in 99% of the patients (102/103). The mean SDD values in the neutral-position magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) were 108.8 mm at C3-C4, 85.3 mm at C4-C5, 64.4 mm at C5-C6, 44.3 mm at C6-C7, and 24.1 mm at C7-T1; and those in the extension-position MRI were 112.9 mm at C3-C4, 88.7 mm at C4-C5, 67.3 mm at C5-C6, 46.5 mm at C6-C7, and 24.3 mm at C7-T1. The Cohen kappa coefficient value for intra-observer reliability was 0.88 (excellent reliability), and the Fleiss kappa coefficient value for inter-observer reliability as reported by three surgeons was 0.89 (excellent reliability).


Based on the results of the present study, we recommend performing ACDF surgery using the SDD method to determine the skin level for approaching the surgical cervical segment without fluoroscopic guidance.


Cervical vertebrae; Fluoroscopy; Magnetic resonance imaging; Spinal fusion; Sternum-disk distance method

Conflict of interest statement

Conflict of Interest: No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.

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