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HSS Study: Swallowing Problems Don’t Have to Accompany Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion

OrthoSpineNews reports on the findings of an HSS study led by spine surgeon Todd J. Albert, MD, which determined topical steroids administered during anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) can help reduce postoperative swallowing difficulties.

“The severity of dysphagia [trouble swallowing] experienced by patients following ACDFs can range from a mild and subjective discomfort such as fullness of the throat and soreness to a serious medical issue such as malnutrition, social isolation, aspiration pneumonia or airway obstruction. Many studies show that most dysphagia-related symptoms occur in the early phase of the recovery period and gradually dissipate over time,” explained Dr. Albert.

Patients scheduled for 2-4 ACDF surgery were enrolled and randomized into two groups (double-blinded). The steroid group received 40 mg of methylprednisolone delivered in an absorbable gel matrix. The control group received the absorbable gel without the steroid. A total of 95 patients were included in the final analysis; 48 received the steroid and 47 were in the control group. Postoperatively, all patients completed validated questionnaires to evaluate their ability to eat and swallow. The group that received the steroid treatment had significantly better dysphagia scores than the control group.

Dr. Albert and colleagues are planning a future study to pursue further research in this arena. “We are interested to look back on these patients and see if there is an impact on the fusion,” Dr. Albert told OSN. “Therefore, after a period of time, we will review the study patients and determine fusion rates for those who received steroids vs not with respect to their fusion status.”

Read the full article at Orthospinenews.com.

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