Pseudarthrosis rate following anterior cervical discectomy with fusion using an allograft cellular bone matrix: a multi-institutional analysis.



The use of osteobiologics, engineered materials designed to promote bone healing by enhancing bone growth, is becoming increasingly common for spinal fusion procedures, but the efficacy of some of these products is unclear. The authors performed a retrospective, multi-institutional study to investigate the clinical and radiographic characteristics of patients undergoing single-level anterior cervical discectomy with fusion performed using the osteobiologic agent Osteocel, an allograft mesenchymal stem cell matrix.


The medical records across 3 medical centers and 12 spine surgeons were retrospectively queried for patients undergoing single-level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) with the use of Osteocel. Pseudarthrosis was determined based on CT or radiographic imaging of the cervical spine. Patients were determined to have radiographic pseudarthrosis if they met any of the following criteria: 1) lack of bridging bone on CT obtained > 300 days postoperatively, 2) evidence of instrumentation failure, or 3) motion across the index level as seen on flexion-extension cervical spine radiographs. Univariate and multivariate analyses were then performed to identify independent preoperative or perioperative predictors of pseudarthrosis in this population.


A total of 326 patients met the inclusion criteria; 43 (13.2%) patients met criteria for pseudarthrosis, of whom 15 (34.9%) underwent revision surgery. There were no significant differences between patients with and those without pseudarthrosis, respectively, for patient age (54.1 vs 53.8 years), sex (34.9% vs 47.4% male), race, prior cervical spine surgery (37.2% vs 33.6%), tobacco abuse (16.3% vs 14.5%), chronic kidney disease (2.3% vs 2.8%), and diabetes (18.6% vs 14.5%) (p > 0.05). Presence of osteopenia or osteoporosis (16.3% vs 3.5%) was associated with pseudarthrosis (p < 0.001). Implant type was also significantly associated with pseudarthrosis, with a 16.4% rate of pseudarthrosis for patients with polyetherethereketone (PEEK) implants versus 8.4% for patients with allograft implants (p = 0.04). Average lengths of follow-up were 27.6 and 23.8 months for patients with and those without pseudarthrosis, respectively. Multivariate analysis demonstrated osteopenia or osteoporosis (OR 4.97, 95% CI 1.51-16.4, p < 0.01) and usage of PEEK implant (OR 2.24, 95% CI 1.04-4.83, p = 0.04) as independent predictors of pseudarthrosis.


In patients who underwent single-level ACDF, rates of pseudarthrosis associated with the use of the osteobiologic agent Osteocel are higher than the literature-reported rates associated with the use of alternative osteobiologics. This is especially true when Osteocel is combined with a PEEK implant.





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Publication Info

Bergin, Stephen M, Timothy Y Wang, Christine Park, Shashank Rajkumar, C Rory Goodwin, Isaac O Karikari, Muhammad M Abd-El-Barr, Christopher I Shaffrey, et al. (2021). Pseudarthrosis rate following anterior cervical discectomy with fusion using an allograft cellular bone matrix: a multi-institutional analysis. Neurosurgical focus, 50(6). p. E6. 10.3171/2021.3.focus2166 Retrieved from

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Courtney Rory Goodwin

Associate Professor of Neurosurgery

Associate Professor of Neurosurgery, Radiation Oncology, Orthopedic Surgery.
Director of Spine Oncology,
Associate Residency Program Director
Third Year Study Program Director Neurosciences, Duke University School of Medicine
Director of Spine Metastasis, Duke Center for Brain and Spine Metastasis, Department of Neurosurgery
Duke Cancer Institute, Duke University Medical Center


Muhammad Abd-El-Barr

Associate Professor of Neurosurgery

As a Neurosurgeon with fellowship training in Spine Surgery, I have dedicated my professional life to treating patients with spine disorders. These include spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, scoliosis, herniated discs and spine tumors. I incorporate minimally-invasive spine (MIS) techniques whenever appropriate to minimize pain and length of stay, yet not compromise on achieving the goals of surgery, which is ultimately to get you back to the quality of life you once enjoyed. I was drawn to medicine and neurosurgery for the unique ability to incorporate the latest in technology and neuroscience to making patients better. I will treat you and your loved ones with the same kind of care I would want my loved ones to be treated with. In addition to my clinical practice, I will be working with Duke Bioengineers and Neurobiologists on important basic and translational questions surrounding spinal cord injuries (SCI), which we hope to bring to clinical relevance.


Christopher Ignatius Shaffrey

Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery

I have more than 25 years of experience treating patients of all ages with spinal disorders. I have had an interest in the management of spinal disorders since starting my medical education. I performed residencies in both orthopaedic surgery and neurosurgery to gain a comprehensive understanding of the entire range of spinal disorders. My goal has been to find innovative ways to manage the range of spinal conditions, straightforward to complex. I have a focus on managing patients with complex spinal disorders. My patient evaluation and management philosophy is to provide engaged, compassionate care that focuses on providing the simplest and least aggressive treatment option for a particular condition. In many cases, non-operative treatment options exist to improve a patient’s symptoms. I have been actively engaged in clinical research to find the best ways to manage spinal disorders in order to achieve better results with fewer complications.


Khoi Duc Than

Professor of Neurosurgery

I chose to pursue neurosurgery as a career because of my fascination with the human nervous system. In medical school, I developed a keen interest in the diseases that afflict the brain and spine and gravitated towards the only field where I could help treat these diseases with my own hands. I focus on disorders of the spine where my first goal is to help patients avoid surgery if at all possible. If surgery is needed, I treat patients using the most advanced minimally invasive techniques available in order to minimize pain, blood loss, and hospital stay, while maximizing recovery, neurologic function, and quality of life. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I am an avid sports fan and love to eat. I try to stay physically fit by going to the gym and playing ice hockey.

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