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Aim: To determine the incidence of adjacent level osteophytes in patients who have had anterior cervical fusion using an anterior cervical plate as compared to those who are fused without an anterior cervical plate.

Design: We retrospectively reviewed the lateral radiograms of sixty two patients who have had an anterior cervical fusion with a minimum follow up of twelve months.

Materials and methods: We looked for the development of adjacent level osteophytes in these patients at their final follow up, which was generally at the time radiological fusion. There were 27 patients in the first group who had an anterior cervical plate used to fix the vertebrae in addition to the Cervios cage, while the 35 patients in the second group in whom only a Rabea cage was used for the fusion. The mean follow-up was 20.6 months (range 12–48).

Results: 64.3% of the patients who had an anterior cervical plate developed adjacent level osteophytes while none of the patients who have had the fusion without the cage developed the osteophytes.

Conclusion: We found the patients who had an anterior cervical interbody fusion using a plate had a significant risk of developing adjacent level osteophytes while this is not seen in patients who do not have the plate for the fixation.

Correspondence should be addressed to: Sue Woodward, Secreteriat, Britspine, Vale Clinic, Hensol Park, Vale of Glamorgan, CF72 8JY Wales.