Scientific Articles   |    
Six-Degrees-of-Freedom Cervical Spine Range of Motion During Dynamic Flexion-Extension After Single-Level Anterior ArthrodesisComparison with Asymptomatic Control Subjects
William J. Anderst, MS1; Joon Y. Lee, MD2; William F. Donaldson, III, MD2; James D. Kang, MD2
1 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Orthopaedics Biodynamics Laboratory, University of Pittsburgh, 3820 South Water Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15203. E-mail address: anderst@pitt.edu
2 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Pittsburgh, Kaufmann Medical Building, Suite 1011, 3471 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
View Disclosures and Other Information
  • Disclosure statement for author(s): PDF

Investigation performed at the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

A commentary by K. Daniel Riew, MD, is linked to the online version of this article at jbjs.org.

Disclosure: One or more of the authors received payments or services, either directly or indirectly (i.e., via his or her institution), from a third party in support of an aspect of this work. In addition, one or more of the authors, or his or her institution, has had a financial relationship, in the thirty-six months prior to submission of this work, with an entity in the biomedical arena that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. No author has had any other relationships, or has engaged in any other activities, that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. The complete Disclosures of Potential Conflicts of Interest submitted by authors are always provided with the online version of the article.

Copyright © 2013 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc.
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2013 Mar 20;95(6):497-506. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.K.01733
5 Recommendations (Recommend) | 3 Comments | Saved by 3 Users Save Case



The etiology of adjacent-segment disease following cervical spine arthrodesis remains controversial. The objective of the current study was to evaluate cervical intervertebral range of motion during dynamic flexion-extension in patients who had undergone a single-level arthrodesis and in asymptomatic control subjects.


Ten patients who had undergone a single-level (C5/C6) anterior arthrodesis and twenty asymptomatic control subjects performed continuous full range-of-motion flexion-extension while biplane radiographs were collected at thirty images per second. A previously validated tracking process determined three-dimensional vertebral position on each pair of radiographs with submillimeter accuracy. Six-degrees-of-freedom kinematics between adjacent vertebrae were calculated throughout the entire flexion-extension movement cycle over multiple trials for each participant. Cervical kinematics were also calculated from images collected during static full flexion and static full extension.


The C4/C5 motion segment moved through a larger extension range of motion and a smaller flexion range of motion in the subjects with the arthrodesis than in the controls. The extension difference between the arthrodesis and control groups was 3.8° (95% CI [confidence interval], 0.9° to 6.6°; p = 0.011) and the flexion difference was −2.9° (95% CI, −5.3° to −0.5°; p = 0.019). Adjacent-segment posterior translation was greater in the arthrodesis group than in the controls, with a C4/C5 difference of 0.8 mm (95% CI, 0.0 to 1.6 mm) and a C6/C7 difference of 0.4 mm (95% CI, 0.0 to 0.8 mm; p = 0.016). Translation range of motion and rotation range of motion were consistently larger when measured on images collected during dynamic functional movement as opposed to images collected at static full flexion or full extension. The upper 95% CI limit for anterior-posterior translation range of motion was 3.45 mm at C3/C4 and C4/C5, but only 2.3 mm at C6/C7.


C5/C6 arthrodesis does not affect the total range of motion in adjacent vertebral segments, but it does alter the distribution of adjacent-segment motion toward more extension and less flexion superior to the arthrodesis and more posterior translation superior and inferior to the arthrodesis during in vivo functional loading. Range of motion measured from static full-flexion and full-extension images underestimates dynamic range of motion. Clinical evaluation of excessive anterior-posterior translation should take into account the cervical vertebral level.

Level of Evidence: 

Therapeutic Level III. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

Figures in this Article
    Sign In to Your Personal ProfileSign In To Access Full Content
    Not a Subscriber?
    Get online access for 30 days for $35
    New to JBJS?
    Sign up for a full subscription to both the print and online editions
    Register for a FREE limited account to get full access to all CME activities, to comment on public articles, or to sign up for alerts.
    Register for a FREE limited account to get full access to all CME activities
    Have a subscription to the print edition?
    Current subscribers to The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery in either the print or quarterly DVD formats receive free online access to JBJS.org.
    Forgot your password?
    Enter your username and email address. We'll send you a reminder to the email address on record.

    Forgot your username or need assistance? Please contact customer service at subs@jbjs.org. If your access is provided
    by your institution, please contact you librarian or administrator for username and password information. Institutional
    administrators, to reset your institution's master username or password, please contact subs@jbjs.org


    Accreditation Statement
    These activities have been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
    CME Activities Associated with This Article
    Submit a Comment
    Please read the other comments before you post yours. Contributors must reveal any conflict of interest.
    Comments are moderated and will appear on the site at the discretion of JBJS editorial staff.

    * = Required Field
    (if multiple authors, separate names by comma)
    Example: John Doe

    Related Content
    The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery
    JBJS Case Connector
    Topic Collections
    Related Audio and Videos
    PubMed Articles
    Results provided by:
    Clinical Trials
    Readers of This Also Read...
    JBJS Jobs
    Louisiana - Ochsner Health System
    S. Carolina - Department of Orthopaedic Surgery Medical Univerity of South Carlonina
    California - UCLA/OH Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
    Oklahoma - The University of Oklahoma