Studies comparing autograft bone fusion with cages continue to be published. Researchers agree more studies are needed before the advantages are clear for one choice over the other.
In a recent study from Germany two groups of patients were compared. All had cervical spine disc degeneration. The first group was treated by removing the disc and using bone graft from their own pelvis to fuse the two vertebrae together. In the second group a titanium cage was inserted where the disc used to be located between the two bones.
The results were measured by patient pain, function, and satisfaction. X-rays with the spine flexed and extended were also done. Everyone was followed for at least one year.
After 12 months, the bone graft group had more pain than the cage group because of the donor site hurting so much. They were surprised at this outcome because it wasn't expected. The authors say all things considered the two methods are equal. The cages reduce overall pain and seem to be the best choice right now.