Serious dysphagia following anterior cervical discectomy and fusion: Long-term incidence in a national cohort

Wu Fu Chung, Shih Wei Liu, Liang Chung Huang, Hsuan Kan Chang, Jau Ching Wu*, Li Fu Chen, Yu Chun Chen, Wen Cheng Huang, Henrich Cheng, Su Shun Lo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Although dysphagia is often self-limiting after anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF), its incidence, risks, and long-term outcomes remain unclear. The present study aimed to analyze dysphagia up to 5 years post-acDf using a nation-scaled cohort. METHODS: incidences of permanent dysphagia requiring nasogastric-tube feeding after acDf were analyzed using three million-sample cohorts derived from the National Health Insurance Research Database of Taiwan. All identified subjects were stratified into four groups (40's, 50's, 60's, and >70) according to their age at operation, and were subsequently followed up for 5 years. The risks of dysphagia were compared between the groups using Kaplan-Meier analysis and cox regression hazard ratio model. RESULTS: A total of 2723 patients (>40 years old) who received first-time ACDF surgery were identified from a cohort of three million and followed up for a maximum of 5 years post-operation. The 5-year incidence rates of persistent dysphagia (requiring use of a nasogastric tube) were 6.1, 4.0, 12.0, and 22.8 per 1000 person-years for each age group (40's, 50's, 60's, and 70+ years old, respectively). The overall incidence rate of dysphagia after acDf was 18.4, 10.9, and 8.9 per 1000 person-years at 3 months, 1 year, and 5 years follow-up, respectively. The incidence rates of dysphagia and use of home care services were highest at 3 months postoperatively in all age groups, but dropped to a stable level after one year post-operation. The risks of dysphagia and the necessity of using home care services were higher (hazard ratio= 2.69 and 4.96) in the elderly group (aged 70 years and over) at all follow-up time points. CONCLUSIONS: The elderly patients had higher risks of short- and long-term severe dysphagia after acDf. Therefore, although the incidence rates were still low (approximately 2.3%), older patients (aged 70 years and over) should be cautioned for dysphagia requiring a nasogastric tube and home care services if they undergo acDf.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-237
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neurosurgical Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2020


  • Deglutition disorders
  • Diskectomy
  • Home care services
  • Incidence
  • National health programs
  • Spinal fusion


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