Rates of anterior cervical discectomy and fusion after initial posterior cervical foraminotomy

Timothy Y. Wang, Daniel Lubelski, Kalil G. Abdullah, Michael P. Steinmetz, Edward C. Benzel, Thomas E. Mroz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Background context: In select patients, posterior cervical foraminotomy (PCF) and anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) result in similar clinical outcomes when used to treat cervical radiculopathy. Nonetheless, ACDF is performed more frequently, in part because of surgeon perception that PCF requires operative revisions more frequently. The present study investigates the rate of ACDF reoperation at the index level after initial PCF. Purpose: To determine the rate of ACDF after initial PCF and to further describe any patient characteristics or preoperative or operative data that increase the rate of reoperation after PCF. Study design: Retrospective chart review. Methods: Demographic, operative, and reoperation information was collected from the electronic medical records for all patients who underwent PCF at one institution between 2004 and 2011. All patients were subsequently contacted by telephone to identify postoperative complications and more conclusively determine whether any revision operation was performed at the index level. Results: One hundred seventy-eight patients who underwent a PCF were reviewed, with an average follow-up of 31.7 months. Nine (5%) patients underwent an ACDF revision operation at the index level. The reason for reoperation in these patients included cervical radiculopathy, foraminal stenosis, disc herniation, and cervical spondylosis. Patients who subsequently underwent ACDF at the index level were significantly younger (25 vs. 35 years, p=.03), had lower body mass index (25 vs. 29, p=.01), and more likely to take anxiolytic (56% vs. 22%, p=.04) or antidepressant medication (67% vs. 27%, p=.02), compared with those that did not have a revision operation. Conclusions: This is the first study to determine conversion to ACDF after PCF. The present study demonstrates that PCF is associated with a low reoperation rate, similar to the historical reoperation for ACDF. Accordingly, spine surgeons can operate via a PCF approach without a significant increased risk for ACDF revision surgery at the index level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)971-976
Number of pages6
JournalSpine Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion
  • Cervical spine
  • Posterior cervical foraminotomy
  • Revision rate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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