Is there any data available comparing the use of tantalum implants to bone grafts for anterior cervical fusion?
A recent article in the journal Spine compared tantalum implants to autologous bone grafts with plate fixation for 1-level cervical disc disease, and found all three methods to have similar efficacy at 24 month follow up. However, tantalum implants had significantly fewer complications than either autologous bone grafting with plate fixation. Most of the complications seen in the grafting patients related to donor site harvesting.
Twenty-eight patients received tantalum implants and 33 received autologous grafts. Radiological and clinical outcomes were similar for both groups.
Autologous grafting requires donor bone harvest, with the concomitant risks of pain, infection and bleeding, among others, at the donor site. Tantalum implantation removes the need for donor site harvesting and the need for plating.
Source: Fernandez-Fairen M et al. Anterior cervical fusion with tantalum implant: a prospective randomized controlled study. Spine 33(5):465-72, 2008