Neurology India
menu-bar5 Open access journal indexed with Index Medicus
  Users online: 4711  
 Home | Login 
About Editorial board Articlesmenu-bullet NSI Publicationsmenu-bullet Search Instructions Online Submission Subscribe Videos Etcetera Contact
  Navigate Here 
  » Next article
  » Previous article 
  » Table of Contents
 Resource Links
  »  Similar in PUBMED
 »  Search Pubmed for
 »  Search in Google Scholar for
 »Related articles
  »  Article in PDF (193 KB)
  »  Citation Manager
  »  Access Statistics
  »  Reader Comments
  »  Email Alert *
  »  Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this Article
 »  Abstract
 »  Introduction
 »  Material and methods
 »  Results
 »  Discussion
 »  Conclusion
 »  References

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded152    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 7    

Recommend this journal

Year : 2002  |  Volume : 50  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 17-22

A radiological evaluation of allografts (ethylene oxide sterilized cadaver bone) and autografts in anterior cervical fusion.

Department of Neurosurgery, L.T.M. Medical College and L.T.M.G. Hospital, Sion, Mumbai, 400103, India.

Correspondence Address:
Department of Neurosurgery, L.T.M. Medical College and L.T.M.G. Hospital, Sion, Mumbai, 400103, India.

  »  Abstract

Serial roentgenograms of 40 patients who had 70 cervical intervertebral spaces grafted with ethylene oxide sterilized cadaver bone and 28 patients who received 44 iliac crest auto grafts for anterior cervical spine fusion, were studied. The radiological evaluation was made on the basis of settlement of intervertebral spaces, fusion rate, delayed union, non-union, graft collapse and extrusion of the graft. Indigenous methodologies were designed for the assessment of settlement of grafted intervertebral spaces in percentage. Disc space settlement was more common in autografts (93% cases) than in allografts (80% cases). The average percentage of settlement of intervertebral disc space (S%) was 22 in autografts and 28 in allografts during the first four months. By the end of eight months, allograft disc spaces settle more. No significant difference was noted in fusion rate at the end of one year viz. allografts (90% cases) and autografts (93% cases). Autograft and allograft (ethylene oxide sterilized cadaver bone) are equally useful in anterior cervical spine fusions.

How to cite this article:
Parthiban J K, Singhania B K, Ramani P S. A radiological evaluation of allografts (ethylene oxide sterilized cadaver bone) and autografts in anterior cervical fusion. Neurol India 2002;50:17-22

How to cite this URL:
Parthiban J K, Singhania B K, Ramani P S. A radiological evaluation of allografts (ethylene oxide sterilized cadaver bone) and autografts in anterior cervical fusion. Neurol India [serial online] 2002 [cited 2021 Nov 29];50:17-22. Available from:

   »   Introduction Top

Anterior interbody fusion after the removal of intervertebral disc material and osteophytes is an accepted mode of treatment for cervical disc prolapse and degenerated discs.[1] Since the advent of the anterior approach by Smith-Robinson and Cloward,[2] many modifications have been undertaken by spinal surgeons to achieve better results.[3-5] The patient's own bone (tricortical iliac crest) is considered the best graft for anterior cervical fusion. Literature shows long term good results achieved by it.[3] Allografts came into the picture to reduce the patients morbidity at the harvest site.[6],[[7],[8] Cadaver bones are sterilized before use by different methods.[9],[10],[11] Research works and reports comparing the autografts and allografts are encouraging.[12],[13]
Since the establishment of a bone bank in November 1986 at L.T.M.G. Hospital, Bombay, India, a large number of anterior cervical fusions were performed using ethylene oxide sterilized cadaver bone by the senior author (PSR). During the process of fusion at the grafted site, an element of settlement of the intervertebral disc space was obvious while following the serial lateral roentgenograms of the cervical spine. The settlement was obviously more in the allografts. Indigenous methodologies were designed to assess the settlement of the grafted intervertebral disc spaces.

   »   Material and methods Top

Serial lateral roentgenograms of 40 patients who had 70 cervical intervertebral spaces grafted with ethylene oxide sterilized cadaver bone (allograft) and 28 patients who received 44 iliac crest autografts during August 1992 at the department of Neurosurgery, L.T.M.G. Hospital,Bombay, were studied. Lateral cervical X-rays taken at the same institution using a constant technique during immediate post operative day, 4 months, 8 months, 12 months and 24 months following surgery were available. Sixteen cases of single level, eighteen cases of two levels and six cases of three levels were available with allograft fusion, while there were twelve cases of single level and sixteen cases of two levels with autograft. The radiological changes were studied in four phases viz. phase I (immediate postoperative-4 months), phase II (4 months-8 months), phase III (8 months -12 months) and phase IV (12 months -24 months)[Table I].
To assess the settlement of the grafted intervertebral spaces in percentage, methodologies 'A' and 'B' were designed. In methodology 'A', the settlement is calculated from the difference between the intervertebral space heights of two consecutive lateral X-rays, ie. (AB-CD). The height of the graft is not taken into account since key-stone technique was followed. The percentage of settlement (S%) is calculated as (AB-CD)/AB x 100 [Figure 1]. Methodology 'B' provides an arbitrary settlement study. The difference between two fixed points in the vertebral bodies (A1B1-A2B2) gives an idea of settlement and the percentage of arbitrary settlement (Arbitrary S%) is calculated as (A1B1-A2B2)/AB x 100 [Figure 1]. The radiological fixed point in the vertebral body is marked. A line crossing the body of the vertebra horizontal to the upper border of the upper vertebra and the lower border of the lower vertebra, or parallel to one of them in multilevel fusion, is drawn from the point where the inferior border of the pedicle joins the posterior border of the vertebra. The center of this line is taken as the fixed point. Methodology B was used in all phases keeping the immediate post operative X-ray as a constant with X-rays taken at 4, 8, 12 and 24 months separately. Methodology A was used only in the first phase, since the radiological delineation at the graft-body site was less in the second phase, especially in the autografts.

Using these methodologies, settlement was assessed and compared between the allografts and autografts.
Good fusion was judged with disappearance of the marginal line between the graft and the host vertebral body and increase in the density of vertical trabeculae of the graft. Abrupt loss of height in the graft with fracture and partial resorption of the mid portion of the graft was termed as collapse of the graft. Persistent clear zone at one junction at the end of second phase was taken as non-union. Union seen after phase II was included in delayed union.

   »   Results Top

Thirty two out of 40 cases (80%) grafted with ethylene oxide cadaver bone (allograft) showed settlement of the intervertebral disc space as compared to 26 out of 28 cases (93%) in autograft group. All the three level fusions in allograft had settled (18/18 levels) while only six out of sixteen levels settled in single level. However, all single level autografts (12/12) showed settlement. Many allografts settle in the second phase (30/56) as compared to the autografts, (28 allografts as compared to 22 autografts). Arbitrary settlement study showed settlement in the second phase also in both groups, but more in allograft (10% more than the I phase). No settlement was noticed in the III and IV phases. This study shows the increased tendency of the allograft to settle in height more than the autografts [Table II] [Figure 2].
Non-union, delayed union and graft collapse were equally represented in both the groups in this series. The fusion at the end of one year was seen in 36 out of 40 patients (90%) with allografts (94% levels) when compared to 26 out of 28 patients (93%) with auto grafts (95% levels) [Table III]. Changes in spinal contour were found in patients who had laminectomy and anterior cervical fusion (4 cases) [Figure 3] and in four cases where three level fusion was done. Extrusion of the graft was seen in four cases. Other findings elicited during this study included the cortex of allografts being more opaque and prominent, and the margin between the graft and body could possibly be made out at 4 months. However, at the end of one year no difference could be made out between allograft and autograft fusion.

   »   Discussion Top

Since the advent of anterior approach in cervical disc prolapses and degenerative osteophytes with radiculopathy and myelopathy, the use of bone grafts for interbody fusion has gained momentum among the spinal surgeons all over the world. Patient's own bone (autograft) is considered best for grafting as it contains bone, osteoinductive bone, morphogenic protein and live osteogenic cells[11] [Figure 4]. However, the morbidity at the harvest site is significant in the form of pain, numbness and, in rare cases, fracture of iliac crest bone.[7],[8] Grafts other than autogenic, like kiel bone,[14],[15] polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA).[16] A1203 ceramic[17] and human cadaver bones (allografts),[9],[18],[19] were brought in to achieve better results. Preservation and storage of allografts date back to the experimental studies of Bauer in 1910 and the clinical efforts of Inclan in 1942.[20] Cloward, in 1946, used frozen cadaver bone for spinal fusion.[21]
Ethylene oxide sterilised cadaver bone is used in many centres for spinal fusion. We found some amount of settling of the disc space in large number of cases in which ethylene oxide sterilized cadaver bone was used, and in some patients with own iliac crest bone. Other authors have also experienced the settling in different forms.[12],[13] However, the settling of disc height and collapse are reported irrespective of the techniques used viz. Cloward, Smith-Robinson, modified Smith-Robinson, Key Stone, T-graft etc. The designed methodologies could standardize the measurement of the settlement in percentage and could be used to assess the nature of settlement during fusion process. Methodology A, particularly in the first phase (upto 4 months), provides a near normal study. In the present study, 28% of the height of allograft disc space settled as compared to 22% in autograft in the phase I, which helped to assess the nature of the grafts used. Brown et al and Zdeblick and Ducker, reported increased graft collapse in allografts.[12],[13] Brodke and Zdeblick reported no disc space collapse in all the 51 patients reported, using a modified Smith-Robinson technique, by placing the tricortical graft cortex posterior in the middle column.[6] However, the measurements were not given. Key stone technique was followed by the senior author using the tricortical graft cortex anteriorly placed with sufficient decortication. Since different surgeons use different types and shapes of grafts with different techniques, it is presumed that this methodology could provide an international standard to the study of the settlement of disc space height.
However, methodology 'A' could be used until the graft host interface is prominent or faint, hence it is useful in the phase I. Methodology 'B' is useful in assessing the settling at different phases. In the present study the progressive settling after 4 months in both groups was well appreciated. Moreover, the tendency of the allograft to settle more in the second phase highlights the delayed union of the grafts.[11],[12] However, this methodology does not provide the near normal result since the measurements A1B1-A2B2 include not only the disc space but also host-graft interface and portion of body of adjacent vertebrae. The difference between two phases gives an idea of settlement and facilitates the comparison between the two groups.
Cloward, in his clinical experience, has shown that the percentage of union in interbody fusions with allografts is the same or higher than autografts, when the grafting technique is performed correctly.[21] Gore reported 100% union rate in dovetail technique with autograft.[4] Hohmann also opines that poor technique leads to poor results.[5] Zdeblick and Ducker reported higher incidence of graft collapse, delayed union and nonunion in freeze dried allografts. However, their clinical results were similar in both.[13] Brown found no difference in fusion rate among allograft (94%) and autograft (97%) despite the increased collapse rate in allografts in multi level fusions.[12] In all three level fusions with allograft in our series, fusion occurred with significant settlement. No significant difference was noticed in the fusion rate in this series (94% of allograft and 95% of autograft levels). Delayed union and graft collapse were equally represented. Despite the difference in settlement among the allograft and autografts, fusion rate is equal in this study. Hence, the increased settlement among the allografts is an acceptable fact in the process of fusion, unless and until a clinical deterioration occurs.

   »   Conclusion Top

Autograft and ethylene oxide sterilized allografts are equally useful in anterior cervical fusions. It is presumed that the methodologies designed could standardize the study of settlement of intervertebral disc height during the process of fusion. Methodology 'A' is possible until the graft-host interface is demarcated or faint which is usually seen upto four months in both allo and autografts. Methodology 'B' is possible in all phases but does not provide the exact settlement result.


  »   References Top

1.Wood EG, Hanley ENJ : Types of anterior cervical grafts. Orthop Clin North Am 1992; 23 : 475-486.   Back to cited text no. 1    
2.Cloward RB : The anterior approach for removal of ruptured cervical discs. J Neurosurg 1958; 5 : 602-616.   Back to cited text no. 2    
3.Bosacco DN, Berman AT, Leuenberg RJ et al : Surgical results in anterior cervical discectomy and fusion using a counter sunk interlocking autogenous iliac bone graft. Orthopedics1992; 15 : 923-925.   Back to cited text no. 3    
4.Gore DR : Technique of cervical interbody fusion. Clin Orthop1984; 188 : 191-195.   Back to cited text no. 4    
5.Hohmann D, Liebig K : Technique of ventral spondylosis of the lower cervical spine. Orthopade1987; 16 : 62-69.   Back to cited text no. 5    
6.Brodke DS, Zdeblick TA : Modified Smith-Robinson procedure for anterior cervical discectomy and fusion. Spine 1992; 17 : S427-S430.   Back to cited text no. 6    
7.Reale F, Gambacorta D, Mencaltini G : Iliac crest fracture after removal of two bone plugs for anterior cervical fusion. Case Report. J Neurosurg 1979; 51 : 560-561.   Back to cited text no. 7    
8.Reynolds AF Jr, Leeser JD : Fracture of the anterior superior iliac spine following anterior cervical fusion using iliac crest, Case Report. J Neurosurg 1978; 48 : 809-810.   Back to cited text no. 8    
9.Cloward TB: Gas sterilised cadaver bone grafts for spinal fusion. Spine 1980; 5 : 4-10.   Back to cited text no. 9    
10.Kakiuchi M, Ono K : Chloroform - methanol treated, ethylene oxide gas sterilised bone allografts as bank bone. Posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF). Ramani PS (ed.). Associated personnel services publication, Bombay. 1989; 132-137.   Back to cited text no. 10    
11.Ramani PS : Ethylene oxide sterilised cadaver bone grafts for spinal fusion operations, a bone bank. Posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF). Ramani PS (ed.). Associated personnel services publication, Bombay. 1989; 142-151.   Back to cited text no. 11    
12.Brown MD, Malinin TI, Davis PB : A roentgenografic evaluation of frozen allografts versus autografts in anterior cervical spine fusions. Clin Orthop 1976; 199 : 231-236.   Back to cited text no. 12    
13.Zdeblick TA, Ducker TB : The use of freeze-dried allograft bone for anterior cervical fusions. Spine1991; 16 : 726-729.   Back to cited text no. 13    
14.Ramani PS, Sengupta RD, Kallag RM : Fate of kiel bone in anterior cervical spine fusion in cervical spondylosis. Br J Surg 1975; 62 : 147-150.   Back to cited text no. 14    
15.Siqueira EB, Kranyler LT : Cervical interbody fusion using calf bone. Surg Neurol 1982; 18 : 37-39.   Back to cited text no. 15    
16.Wang GJ, Reger SI, Shao ZH et al : Comparative strength of anterior spinal fixation with bone graft or polymethylmethacrylate. Experimental operations and observations on dogs. Clin Orthop1984; 188 : 303-308.   Back to cited text no. 16    
17.Taguchi T : Experimental anterior interbody fusion of the cervical spine. Comparative study between autograft and a 1203 ceramic implantation, Nippon Seikeigeka Gakkai Zasshi. 1984; 58 : 205-217.   Back to cited text no. 17    
18.Kakiuchi M, Ono K : The relative efficacy of surgace decalcified and wholly decalcified bone alloimplants. Intern Orthop1987; 11 : 89.   Back to cited text no. 18    
19.Prolo DJ et al : Ethylene oxide sterilisation of bone, duramater and fascia lata for human transplantation. Neurosurgery 1980; 6 : 529.   Back to cited text no. 19    
20.Inclan A : The use of preserved bone grafts in orthopaedic surgery. J Bone Joint Surg 1942; 24 : 81-96.   Back to cited text no. 20    
21.Cloward RB : Ten years experience with a one man bone bank. J Int Col Surg 1957; 23 : 110-117.   Back to cited text no. 21    
22.Ramani PS, Lin PM, Mehta RV et al : Radiological evidence of fusion in lumbar interbody fusion surgery, posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF). Ramani PS (ed.). Associated personnel services publication, Bombay. 1989; 160-170.   Back to cited text no. 22    


Print this article  Email this article
Previous article Next article
Online since 20th March '04
Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow