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Neurospine > Volume 16(3); 2019 > Article
DOI:    Published online July 8, 2019.
Swallowing Function Following Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion With and Without Anterior Plating: A SWAL-QOL (Swallowing-Quality of Life) and Radiographic Assessment
Brittany E. Haws, Benjamin Khechen, Dil V. Patel, Joon S. Yoo, Jordan A. Guntin, Kaitlyn L. Cardinal, Kern Singh 
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL, USA
Corresponding Author:  Kern Singh
Tel: +1-312-432-2373   Fax: +1-708-492-5373   Email:
Received: August 24, 2018   Revised: January 9, 2019   Accepted: February 14, 2019
Anterior cervical plating in anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) procedures are associated with improved outcomes compared to stand-alone cages. However, concerns exist regarding increased rates of postoperative dysphagia following an ACDF. This study aims to quantify the effect of anterior plating on swallowing-quality of life (SWAL-QOL) scores and radiographic swelling assessments following a primary, single-level ACDF.
Patients retrospectively reviewed. Patients grouped into those receiving a cage or anterior plate. SWAL-QOL scores were recorded preoperatively and 6 weeks and 12 weeks postoperatively. Lateral radiographs were used to create a swelling index with a ratio of the prevertebral swelling distance to the anterior-posterior diameter of each involved vertebral body. An air index was created using the same methodology. Statistical analysis was performed using chi-square analysis and independent t-tests for categorical and continuous variables.
Sixty-eight primary, single-level ACDF patients were included. Forty-one (60.3%) received a stand-alone cage and 27 (39.7%) received a cage with anterior plating. No differences in demographics, comorbidities, operative time, estimated blood loss, or length of hospital stay were identified between Cage and Plate cohorts. Finally, no differences were observed in postoperative SWAL-QOL scores or swelling and air indices between groups.
The results demonstrate that patients undergoing a primary, single-level ACDF with or without anterior plating experience similar operative times and lengths of stay. Patients that receive a cage with anterior plating did not experience significant increases in dysphagia as measured by the SWAL-QOL questionnaire compared to patients that received a stand-alone cage. Furthermore, radiographic assessments of swelling are comparable.
Keywords: Spine, Surgery, Dysphagia, Swallowing, Medical device

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