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Asian J Neurosurg. 2019 Apr-Jun;14(2):461-466. doi: 10.4103/ajns.AJNS_236_18.

The Utility of Cervical Spine Bracing as a Postoperative Adjunct to Single-level Anterior Cervical Spine Surgery.

Author information

Department of Neurosurgery, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA.
Department of Neurosurgery and Orthopedic Surgery, Translational Spine Research Laboratory, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA.
Department of Neurosurgery, McKenna EpiLog Fellowship in Population Health, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA.
Department of Mathematics, West Chester Statistical Institute, West Chester University, West Chester, PA, USA.


Background Context:

Use of cervical bracing/collar subsequent to anterior cervical spine discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is variable. Outcomes data regarding bracing after ACDF are limited.


The purpose of the study is to study the impact of bracing on short-term outcomes related to safety, quality of care, and direct costs in single-level ACDF.

Study Design/Setting:

This retrospective cohort analysis of all consecutive patients (n = 578) undergoing single-level ACDF with or without bracing from 2013 to 2017 was undertaken.


Patient demographics and comorbidities were analyzed. Tests of independence (Chi-square, Fisher's exact, and Cochran-Mantel-Haenszel test), Mann-Whitney-Wilcoxon tests, and logistic regressions were used to assess differences in length of stay (LOS), discharge disposition (home, assisted rehabilitation facility-assisted rehabilitation facility, or skilled nursing facility), quality-adjusted life year (QALY), surgical site infection (SSI), direct cost, readmission within 30 days, and emergency room (ER) visits within 30 days.


Among the study population, 511 were braced and 67 were not braced. There was no difference in graft type (P = 1.00) or comorbidities (P = 0.06-0.73) such as obesity (P = 0.504), smoking (0.103), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease hypertension (P = 0.543), coronary artery disease (P = 0.442), congestive heart failure (P = 0.207), and problem list number (P = 0.661). LOS was extended for the unbraced group (median 34.00 + 112.15 vs. 77.00 + 209.31 h, P < 0.001). There was no difference in readmission (P = 1.000), ER visits (P = 1.000), SSI (P = 1.000), QALY gain (P = 0.437), and direct costs (P = 0.732).


Bracing following single-level cervical fixation does not alter short-term postoperative course or reduce the risk for early adverse outcomes in a significant manner. The absence of bracing is associated with increased LOS, but cost analyses show no difference in direct costs between the two treatment approaches. Further evaluation of long-term outcomes and fusion rates will be necessary before definitive recommendations regarding bracing utility following single-level ACDF.


Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion; cervical fixation; single-level bracing

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