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Open Access Study protocol

The CASCADE trial: effectiveness of ceramic versus PEEK cages for anterior cervical discectomy with interbody fusion; protocol of a blinded randomized controlled trial

Mark P Arts1*, Jasper FC Wolfs1 and Terry P Corbin2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neurosurgery, Medical Center Haaglanden, PO Box 432, 2501, CK The Hague, The Netherlands

2 Corbin & Company, Maple Grove, Minnesota, USA

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2013, 14:244  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-14-244

Published: 16 August 2013

Abstract

Background

Anterior cervical discectomy with interbody fusion cages is considered the standard surgical procedure in patients with cervical disc herniation. However, PEEK or metal cages have some undesirable imaging characteristics, leading to a search for alternative materials not creating artifacts on images; silicon nitride ceramic. Whether patients treated with silicon nitride ceramic cages have similar functional outcome as patients treated with PEEK cages is not known. We present the design of the CASCADE trial on effectiveness of ceramic cages versus PEEK cages in patients with cervical disc herniation and/or osteophytes.

Methods/Design

Patients (age 18–75 years) with monoradicular symptoms in one or both arms lasting more than 8 weeks, due to disc herniation and/or osteophytes, are eligible for the trial. The study is designed as a randomized controlled equivalence trial in which patients are blinded to the type of cage for 1 year. The total follow-up period is 2 years. The primary outcome measure is improvement in the Neck and Disability Index (NDI). Secondary outcomes measures include improvement in arm pain and neck pain (VAS), SF-36 and patients' perceived recovery. The final elements of comparison are perioperative statistics including operating time, blood loss, length of hospital stay, and adverse events. Lateral plane films at each follow-up visit and CT scan (at 6 months) will be used to judge fusion and the incidence of subsidence. Based on a power of 90% and assuming 8% loss to follow-up, 100 patients will be randomized into the 2 groups. The first analysis will be conducted when all patients have 1 year of follow-up, and the groups will be followed for 1 additional year to judge stability of outcomes.

Discussion

While the new ceramic cage has received the CE Mark based on standard compliance and animal studies, a randomized comparative study with the golden standard product will provide more conclusive information for clinicians. Implementation of any new device should only be done after completion of randomized controlled effectiveness trials.

Keywords:
Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion; Silicon nitride; Polyetheretherketone; PEEK; Interbody spacers; Randomized controlled trial; Herniated disc