Cervical Spine Surgery: Approach-Related Complications

Ran Harel*, Petros Stylianou, Nachshon Knoller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Objective Cervical spine surgery is a common procedure for treatment of wide variety of pathologies. In this paper we report approach-related complication rates experienced by our patients. Methods We retrospectively evaluated data from patients who were treated surgically for cervical pathologies from February 2011 to October 2013. Medical records were collected and evaluated. We compared the anterior cervical approach with the posterior cervical approach for patients operated for all cervical pathologies, and a subanalysis was performed for patients with cervical myelopathy. Results The study included 251 patients (192 anterior vs. 59 posterior). The anterior approach patients were younger (not significant), but the indications for surgery varied significantly. Mean number of levels treated was 2.2 and 3.5 for anterior and posterior approaches, respectively (statistically significant). Neurologic status change was favorable for both surgical approaches. Total and deep wound infection rates (5.8% vs. 11.9%; P = 0.008; 0.5% vs. 8.5%; P < 0.0005) were significantly greater for the posterior approach As well as total complication rate (7.8% vs. 20.3%; P = 0.005). A subanalysis that included only cervical myelopathy patients (131 anterior vs. 33 posterior) demonstrated again greater levels of deep wound infections and total infection rates for posterior approach (0% vs. 12%; P < 0.0005; 12% vs. 1.5%; P < 0.005). Total complication rate in the myelopathy group was greater for the posterior approach (6.1% vs. 18.1%; P = 0.026). Conclusions Both the posterior and the anterior approaches are highly efficacious in preventing neurologic deterioration and in most cases improve neurological function. This study demonstrates that the anterior approach was associated with significantly lower rates of complication especially infection related complications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalWorld Neurosurgery
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Anterior approach
  • Cervical surgery
  • Complications
  • Posterior approach


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