Role of Plate Thickness as a Cause of Dysphagia After Anterior Cervical Fusion

Dr. Kingsley R. Chin of the Less Institute

Scientific Paper

Chin KR1Eiszner JRAdams SB JrSpine (Phila Pa 1976). 2007

Interested medical professionals can read the full paper, as published in Spine, here.

Study Design

Prospective radiographic analysis with clinical correlates.


The purpose of this study was to determine whether patients with cervical plates protruding off the vertebral body more prominently than pre-existing osteophytes had higher rates of dysphagia, suggesting a mechanical role.

Summary of Background Data

Plate prominence due to mechanical causes has been implicated as a cause of dysphagia after anterior cervical fusion. This study therefore assessed the potential of plate prominence as a cause of dysphagia after anterior cervical fusion and the predictive role of preoperative osteophyte heights.


Osteophyte heights measured on the preoperative radiographs of 63 patients, 41 males and 23 females with mean age 54 years (range, 31 to 75), who underwent anterior fusion (2 mm SYNTHES CSLP plates). After surgery, the distance of the plate from the vertebral body was measured and compared with preoperative osteophyte heights. Group I contained 30 patients who had cervical plates protrude less than or equal to the height of the tallest preoperative osteophyte. Group II contained 34 patients who had plates protrude greater than the height of the tallest preoperative osteophyte.


No patients had preoperative dysphagia. Five of 30 Group I patients had dysphagia (>1 month). Six of 34 group II patients had dysphagia. There was no difference between groups I and II in rate of dysphagia (beta > 0.90). Plates at C3 and shorter cervical constructs trended higher rates of dysphagia.


Long-term postoperative dysphagia in Group I patients and the lack of a difference in rates of dysphagia between group I and group II, made it improbable plate thickness of 2 mm or prominence between 3 and 7 mm consistently played roles in dysphagia. Preoperative osteophyte height did not predict which patients developed postoperative dysphagia. Plates at the C3 and shorter constructs trended to have higher rates of dysphagia.

About Author Dr. Kingsley R. Chin

Dr. Kingsley R. Chin, founder of philosophy and practice of The LES Society and The LESS Institute
Dr. Kingsley R. Chin, Founder of philosophy and practice of The LES Society and The LESS Institute

Dr. Kingsley R. Chin is a board certified Harvard-trained orthopedic spine surgeon and professor with copious business and information technology exposure. He sees a niche opportunity where medicine, business and info. tech meet – and is uniquely educated at the intersection of these three professions. He has experience as Professor of Clinical Biomedical Sciences & Admissions Committee Member at the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University, Professor of Clinical Orthopedic Surgery at the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine at Florida International University, Assistant Professor of Orthopaedics at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, Visiting Spine Surgeon & Professor at the University of the West Indies, Mona, and Adjunct Professor of Clinical Biomedical Studies at the University of Technology, Jamaica.

Learn more about Dr. Chin here and connect via LinkedIn.

About Less Exposure Surgery

Less Exposure Surgery (LES) is based on a new philosophy of performing surgery, leading the charge to prove through bench and clinical outcomes research that LES treatment options are the best solutions – to lowering the cost of healthcare, improving outcomes and increasing patient satisfaction. Learn more at

The LES Society philosophy: “Tailor treatment to the individual aiding in the quickest recovery and return to a pain-free lifestyle, using LES® techniques that lessen exposure, preserve unoffending anatomy and utilize new technologies which are safe, easy to adopt and reproducible. These LES®techniques lessen blood loss, surgical time and exposure to radiation and can be safely performed in an outpatient center. Less is more.” – Kingsley R. Chin, MD

About The LESS Institute

The LESS Institute is the world leader center of excellence in Less Exposure Surgery. Our safe, effective outpatient treatments help patients recover quickly, avoid expensive hospital stays and return home to their family the same day. Watch our patient stories, follow us on Facebook and visit to learn more.

About SpineFrontier

The above study utilized LES Technology from SpineFrontier – leading provider of LES Technologies and instruments – offering surgeons and patients superior technology and services.

Scientific Paper Author & Citation Details


Chin KR1Eiszner JRAdams SB Jr.

Author information

  1. Division of Spine Surgery, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.

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