Clinical and radiographic benefits of skipping C7 instrumentation in posterior cervicothoracic fusion: a retrospective analysis

Saavan Patel, Morteza Sadeh, Matthew K. Tobin, Nauman S. Chaudhry, Cristian Gragnaniello, Sergey Neckrysh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: C7 instrumentation during posterior cervicothoracic fusion can be challenging because it requires additional work of either placing side connectors to a single rod or placing two rods. Our clinical observations suggested that skipping instrumentation at C7 in a multi-level posterior cervicothoracic fusion will result in minimal intraoperative complications and decreased blood-loss while still maintaining sagittal balance parameters of cervical fusion. The objective of this study is to determine the clinical and radiographic outcomes of skipping C7 instrumentation compared to instrumenting the C7 vertebra in posterior cervicothoracic fusion. Methods: This is a retrospective chart review of 314 consecutive patients who underwent multilevel posterior cervical fusion (PCF) at our institution. Out of 314 patients, 19 were instrumented at C7 serving as the control group, while the remaining 295 patients were not. Evaluation of efficacy was based on intraoperative complications, operative time, estimated blood loss (EBL), significant long-term complications, and radiographic evidence of fusion. Results: Skipping the C7 level resulted in a significant reduction in EBL (488±576 vs. 822±1,137; P=0.007); however, operative time was similar between groups (174±95 vs. 184±86 minutes; P=0.844). Complications were minimal in both groups and not statistically significant. Radiographic analysis revealed C7 bridge patients had a significantly increased postoperative sagittal vertical axis (SVA) (29.3±13.1 vs. 20.2±3.1 mm; P=0.008); however, there was no significant difference between groups in SVA correction (−0.3±16.2 vs. −16.1±16.0 mm; P=0.867), T1 slope correction (3.4°±9.9° vs. 3.2°±5.5°; P=0.127), or cervical cobb angle correction (−5.7°±14.2° vs. −7.0°±12.2°; P=0.519). There were no significant long-term complications in either group. Conclusions: Skipping instrumentation at C7 in a multilevel posterior cervicothoracic fusion is associated with significantly reduced operative blood loss without loss of radiographic correction. This study demonstrates the clinical benefits of skipping C7 instrumentation in posterior cervicothoracic fusion with maintenance of radiographic correction parameters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)333-342
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Spine Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Spine
  • cervicothoracic junction (CTJ)
  • posterior cervical fusion (PCF)
  • retrospective

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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