Trends and complications in cervical spine surgery: 1989-1993

Seth M. Zeidman, Thomas B. Ducker, Jack Raycroft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In an effort to determine trends in surgery of cervical spine disorders and the incidence of complications resulting from this treatment, a mechanism was established for the collection and analysis of multicenter data on an every-5-year basis. This data collection technique allowed the tracking of trends in the treatment for specific diagnoses and determination of complication rates for individual procedures. We present the results occurring in 4,589 patients operated on by 35 surgeons per year between 1989 and 1993. Principal diagnoses included spondylosis, herniated nucleus pulposus, trauma, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament, and tumor. Surgical procedures included anterior cervical discectomy, anterior cervical discectomy and fusion, corpectomy, laminectomies, posterior arthrodesis, laminoplasty, and cervical plating. Complications reported include: bone graft failure, cerebrospinal fluid leak, recurrent laryngeal nerve injury, root injury, quadriplegia, and death. The yearly percentages of each diagnosis have been roughly stable for each year of the study. However, the operative procedures revealed some interesting trends. There was no overall trend with regard to complications over time, and the overall complication risk was -5%. The present data confirm that cervical spine disease is primarily degenerative or discogenic. However, trauma still remains a major part of the practice, accounting for upwards of 17% of reported cases. Anterior procedures were twice as common as posterior ones. The risk of operative complications remains small yet significant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)523-526
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of spinal disorders
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 1997


  • Cervical spine
  • Complications
  • Morbidity
  • Surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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