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Radiographic and clinical follow-up review of Caspar plates in 49 patients

C G Paramore, C A Dickman, V K Sonntag
Journal of Neurosurgery 1996, 84 (6): 957-61
Although they are excellent clinical tools, Caspar anterior cervical plates have not been studied closely with regard to their mechanisms of failure. As more extensive operations are contemplated on older, sicker patients, it is imperative to know when a plating system might be prone to failure and what the mechanism of that failure might be. Therefore, the authors reviewed 49 patients undergoing Caspar plate placement in whom sufficient radiographs were obtained to determine if the fate of the hardware was related to the patient's age, type of operation, and the length of construct. Eleven of 49 patients suffered hardware failure, defined as any amount of screw backout or breakage, plate pullout, or pseudarthrosis. Four patients underwent hardware removal; one underwent posterior fusion for pseudarthrosis. Only two required treatment in a halo brace. There was an eventual fusion rate of 100%, including one fibrous union, and one of the patients who underwent repeat surgery was lost to follow-up review. No graft extrusions or new neurological deficits were incurred as a result of hardware failure. Plate length predicted plate failure in a statistically significant manner. Increasing age and reoperation correlated with plate failure but were not statistically significant in this small number of patients. Telescoping of the bone graft and vertebral bodies, with concomitant migration of the plate and slippage of the screws, was common. However, telescoping was more profound in the group in which the plates failed. The authors conclude that Caspar plate failures are more likely to occur in the elderly and in patients who need longer constructs. Bone fusion can be expected even when the hardware loosens.

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