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Comparison of head positioning using the Mayfield skull clamp versus padded headrest in anterior cervical discectomy and fusion surgery.

BACKGROUND: Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is a commonly implemented surgical intervention for a variety of pathologies affecting the cervical spine. The current literature and daily practice reveal variations on patient head positioning for this procedure with both rigid fixations in the Mayfield skull clamp as well as use of a padded headrest being used. In this study, we therefore examine whether patients undergoing surgery using head positioning in the Mayfield skull clamp versus a padded headrest differ in regard to adverse events, surgical parameters and clinical outcome.

METHODS: A single-center, retrospective analysis of 121 patients treated with ACDF for degenerative disease, traumatic cervical spine injury and infectious disease between November 2019 and March 2023 was performed. Clinical and imaging data for 59 patients positioned in the Mayfield skull clamp and 62 patients positioned in a padded headrest were evaluated using electronic medical records. In addition to demographic data, surgical indications, procedures performed were analyzed for both groups. Level of training (chief, attending and resident), length of surgery and intraoperative radiation exposure (measured by dose area product and total radiation time) were also examined. Finally, modified Rankin Scale (mRS) preoperatively and at last follow-up as well as adverse events were compared between groups.

RESULTS: We found no statistically significant differences between the Mayfield and headrest groups regarding surgical indications (P=0.583), procedures performed (P=0.069), level of training of the surgeon (P=0.218), length of surgery (P=0.752), adverse events (P=0.619) or neurological impairment (P=0.080) following surgical intervention. There was a significant difference regarding dose area product between both groups with patients positioned in the Mayfield skull clamp showing lower mean levels of radiation than those in the headrest group (99 versus 131 cGy/cm2 ; P=0.003).

CONCLUSIONS: Patient positioning using the Mayfield skull clamp may reduce required radiation exposure during ACDF procedures versus use of a padded headrest.

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