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Crystal Ball for Best Neck Fusion Result

Posted on: 07/30/2003
Would you like to know what the medical world uses for a crystal ball? It's called predictors of outcome. In some cases, it's possible to tell ahead of time who's likely to have a good result after surgery and who isn't. Having some kind of ability to predict outcomes is important for operations that often have a poor result. This study reports the predictors for anterior neck fusion.

This operation is done from the front of the neck. Part of the bone is removed, and the spine is fused at that level. This procedure is called anterior cervical decompression and fusion (ACDF). Two ways of doing the operation were included in this study. Many patients still have symptoms after an ACDF no matter how it's done.

The researchers first looked at ways to predict pain relief. They also included predictors of improvement. They gathered data on gender, pain, and use of drugs for pain. Information on pain included how long the patient had pain, location of pain, and levels of pain. Smoking history, age, education level, and type of work were also recorded.

The results show that older men who werenonsmokers and had a larger kyphosis have the best chances of pain relief after ACDF. Kyphosis is another word for a forward curve of the spine. Sometimes severe kyphosis is known as a hunchback.

Improvements were also based on schooling, pain level, smoking status, and grip strength. Patients with more schooling, lower pain level, and stronger grip strength had better results. Nonsmoking patients also had better outcomes. There was also a strong link between pain intensity before and after surgery with what the patient could do after surgery.

The authors conclude by noting how important it is to preview patients before doing ACDF. Each patient must be screened for factors linked with failure or poor results. Improving patient selection in ACDF is the goal. The patient's pain is the most important factor for predicting overall result.

Anneli Peolsson, et al. Predictive Factors for the Outcome of Anterior Cervical Decompression and Fusion. In European Spine Journal. June 2003. Vol. 12. No. 3. Pp. 274-280.

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