Does the success rate for neck fusion surgery change depending on whether two or three levels in the neck are operated on?

A recent study compared patients who had neck fusion of two or three levels. The surgical team took a section of bone from the outside edge of the patients' lower leg, the fibula bone. The graft was used to join the neck vertebrae.

Of 145 patients, only 14 patients did not have solid bone fusions two years after surgery. The success rate for surgery at two levels was 92 percent. For three levels, the success rate was slightly lower--84 percent. The difference between success rates was felt to be slight.

Conventional wisdom holds that the more sites operated on, the greater the risk. But this research suggests that patients can safely have surgery at multiple levels using a graft of bone from the fibula with good results.