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Safety and Efficacy of Bioabsorbable Cervical Spacers and Low-Dose rhBMP-2 in Multi-Level ACDF

Kaveh Khajavi, MD, Alessandria Shen, MSPH 

Georgia Spine and Neurosurgery Center



Many options for interbody spacer and graft biologic exist for multilevel anterior cervical discectomy
and fusion (ACDF). The objective of this study is to evaluate the safety and efficacy of a bioabsorbable cervical spacer (BCS) (Cornerstone HSR, Medtronic Sofamor Danek) filled with low-dose rhBMP-2 (INFUSE, Medtronic Sofamor Danek) in multilevel ACDF.


72 consecutive patients treated with a multi-level ACDF using BCS and rhBMP-2 (dosage between 0.5 to 0.7 mg per level) at a single institution were followed in an IRB-approved, prospective registry. A total of 187 levels were treated (mean = 2.6), with 37 (51%) patients undergoing a 2-level procedure and 35 (49%) undergoing a 3- or 4-level procedure. Statistical analysis included frequency and ANOVA tests. Significance was accepted for p<0.001.


Average follow-up was 13.8 months. Mean patient age was 55.3 years, 70.8% were female, and 16.7% had undergone a previous cervical procedure. 29 (40%) patients had cervical spondylitic myelopathy, 27 (38%) had radiculopathy, 15 (21%) had a combination of both, and 1 (1%) patient had a previous nonunion. 

A total of 187 levels were treated with an ACDF, with 37 (51%) 2-level, 27 (38%) 3-level, and 8 (11%) 4-level cases. Average OR time, EBL, and LOS were 144 minutes, 49 mL, and 1.1 days, respectively. Major complications occurred in 5 (7%) patients: 2 returns to OR (1 nonunion, 1 seroma), 1 recurrent laryngeal nerve injury, and 2 hospital readmissions for excessive pre-vertebral swelling/dysphagia treated with steroids and observation. Minor complications occurred in 3 (4%) patients: 2 exacerbations of pre-existing medical conditions (1 atrial fibrillation, 1 COPD), and 1 hospital readmission for nausea/ headache due to narcotics. 

At last follow-up, NDI improved 43% from 43.6% to 25.0%. VAS neck pain improved 60% from 5.5 to 2.2 and VAS arm pain improved 52% from 5.8 to 2.6. SF-36 PCS improved 24% from 37.5 to 46.3 and MCS improved 18% from 43.2 to 50.9. All clinical improvements were statistically significant (p < 0.001). 

Patient satisfaction was high, with 97% of patients reported being satisfied with their surgical outcome, and 90% would undergo the procedure again.


Patients in this series experienced significant clinical improvements, low complication rates, and high patient satisfaction. Symptomatic pseudoarthrosis was rare. BCS filled with low-dose rhBMP-2 appears to be a safe and effective option in multilevel ACDF. Further investigation is warranted.

ACDF, bioabsorbable, spacer, Outcomes, safety
Volume 8 Article 9