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This article is the author's final published version in Asian Spine Journal, Volume 17, Issue 2, 2023, Pages 304-312.

The published version is available at

Copyright © 2023 by Korean Society of Spine Surgery

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective cohort.

PURPOSE: To determine (1) the effects of serotonin reuptake inhibitors in pseudarthrosis rates after anterior cervical decompression and fusion (ACDF) and (2) to identify patient-reported outcome measures in patients taking serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

OVERVIEW OF LITERATURE: Recent literature suggests that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may inhibit fracture healing via downregulation of osteoblast differentiation. Spinal fusion supplementation with osteoblast-rich substances enhances spinal fusion, thus SSRIs may be detrimental.

METHODS: Patients with 1-year postoperative dynamic cervical spine radiographs following ACDF were grouped into serotonin reuptake inhibitor prescriptions (SSRI, serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor [SNRI], or tricyclic antidepressant [TCA]) and no prescription (atypical antidepressant or no antidepressant). Pseudarthrosis was defined as ≥1 mm interspinous process motion on dynamic radiographs. Logistic regression models were controlled for confounding to analyze pseudarthrosis rates. Alpha was set at p - values of <0.05.

RESULTS: Of the 523 patients who meet the inclusion criteria, 137 (26.2%) were prescribed an SSRI, SNRI, or TCA. Patients with these prescriptions were more likely to have pseudarthrosis (p =0.008) but not a revision surgery due to pseudarthrosis (p =0.219). Additionally, these patients had worse 1-year postoperative mental component summary (MCS)-12 (p =0.015) and Neck Disability Index (NDI) (p =0.006). The multivariate logistic regression analysis identified SSRI/SNRI/TCA use (odds ratio [OR], 1.82; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.11-2.99; p =0.018) and construct length (OR, 1.91; 95% CI, 1.50-2.44; p

CONCLUSIONS: Patients taking serotonin reuptake-inhibiting antidepressants are at increased risk of worse postoperative outcome scores, including NDI and MCS-12, likely due to their underlying depression. This may contribute to their greater likelihood of having adjacent segment surgery. Additionally, preoperative use of serotonin reuptake inhibitors in patients undergoing an ACDF is a predictor of radiographic pseudarthrosis but not pseudarthrosis revision.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License