New Device for Cervical Spine Surgery

A significant advancement in spine fusion technology has recently been recognized with the development of the first and only interbody implant specifically designed for the cervical spine.

In December 1992, development of the BAK/C® Cervical Interbody Fusion System was initiated. In clinical trials the implant device was tested for seven years. The clinical trials were supervised by leading neurosurgeons and orthopaedic surgeons in the United States with participation from several hundred patients. In April 2001 the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the device.

bak cage device interbody instrumentation fixation fusion color photo
BAK/C® Cervical Interbody Fusion Device

For many patients considering cervical spinal fusion, this interbody cage is good news!

Chronic Neck Pain

Each year thousands of people suffer chronic neck pain caused by degenerative disc disease. With age some discs may become thin and weak, which could result in painful disc herniation. Disc height can be lost or compromised by the formation of bone spurs called osteophytes. Of course people of all ages can suffer from chronic neck pain. Cervical disc problems are also caused by excessive wear and tear and traumatic injury.

disc problems labeled normal degenerated bulging herniated thinning osteophyte formation color drawing

Importance of Disc Height

The discs absorb shock and separate the vertebrae to allow room for nerves to exit the spinal column. When disc height is lost the vertebrae grate against each other during movement and can pinch nerves. Irritated or impinged nerves cause pain, tingling sensations, numbness and weakness in the neck, shoulders, arms and hands. The symptoms can be debilitating.

normal disc, vertebra, nerves

Non-Surgical Treatment Options

Initial treatment for chronic neck pain includes medication, injections for pain and physical therapy. Patients who have tried these treatments without successful resolution of their symptoms may elect to have cervical spine fusion.

Cervical Fusion

Until now, anterior cervical discectomy and fusion involved removing the disc and replacing the empty space with bone graft. Bone graft is obtained from either the patient's hip (autograft) or donor bone (allograft). Cervical plates hold the construct stable to facilitate fusion.

The new cervical interbody device is cylindrical and made of titanium alloy. As the device is implanted between two vertebrae it collects bone material necessary for fusion. Therefore an autograft procedure or allograft is not always needed.

cervical plate zephir color photo msd x-ray cervical postoperative cage implanted instrumentation fixation fusion
BAK/C ® Device Implanted Between Vertebrae

Clinical Trial Results

The new cervical implant offers patients and surgeons many advantages including:

  • The interbody implant is designed for placement into one disc space between C-3 and C-7
  • Reduced the need for autograft or allograft
  • Eliminated the need for cervical plates
  • At every patient follow-up fusion rates were higher than those compared to an Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion
  • Patients experienced fewer complications
  • Provided strength and stability to the cervical spine


It is easy to understand why spine surgeons are enthusiastic about this new cervical interbody implant. As stated earlier, thousands of people suffer chronic unrelenting neck pain. Many patients will opt for cervical fusion to relieve their symptoms. Fortunately, this new cervical interbody implant is available now to improve the quality of life for thousands suffering today.

Updated on: 02/01/10
The development of the cervical interbody cage provides today's spine surgeon with an innovative alternative in the treatment of cervical degenerative disease. The long-term effects of a more rigid interbody implant in the cervical spine are as yet undetermined, particularly any association with adjacent segment disease. It will be interesting to observe the long-term clinical outcome following implantation of this device.