Objectives: Several surgical techniques are available for the treatment of cervical degenerative disease. For resolving cervical nerve root compression, anterior cervical discectomy with fusion (ACDF) or posterior cervical foraminotomy (PCF) can be applied. Amongst neurosurgeons, there seems to be a tendency to prefer ACDF, even though there are some advantages in favor of PCF. The objective of present study is to evaluate which factors determine the choice for an anterior or posterior surgical approach in patients with cervical radiculopathy based on foraminal pathology.
Methods: A web-based survey was sent to all 133 neurosurgeons in the Netherlands. The study followed a mixed methods cross-sectional design. The first part of the survey focused on general perceived (dis)advantages of ACDF and PCF. The second part concerned questions about the choice between the two procedures. Furthermore, it was analyzed if exposure during training, amount of performed surgeries, assumed reoperation and complication rates influenced the choice of procedure by conducting Chi-square tests with post-hoc analysis.
Results: A total of 56 neurosurgeons responded (42%). An overall preference for ACDF was observed, even when differentiating for a pure disc prolapse, a spondylotic or a combined stenosis of the neuroforamen. The most relative important factors for motivating the preference for either ACDF or PCF were: the assumed best decompression of the nerve root (18%), congruence with current literature (16%), exposure during residency (12%), personal comfort (11%) and experience (11%) with the technique.
Conclusion: In this survey, there was an overall preference for ACDF above PCF for the surgical treatment of a foraminal cervical radiculopathy. In addition to subjective factors as "experience" and "comfort", the respondents often motivated their choice as "the best one according to literature". As there is currently no evidence about the superiority of any of the procedures in literature, this assumption is remarkable.