The influence of the sequence of surgery in the development of prevertebral soft tissue swelling (PSTS) in staged combined multilevel anterior–posterior complex spine surgery was examined. This study was conducted as a retrospective study of patients who underwent staged combined multilevel anterior–posterior complex cervical spine surgery from March 2014 to February 2021. Eighty-two patients were identified, of which fifty-seven were included in the final analysis after screening. PSTS was measured from routine serial monitoring lateral cervical radiographs prior to and after surgery for five consecutive days at each cervical level from C2 to C7 in patients who underwent anterior then posterior (AP) and posterior then anterior–posterior (PAP) surgery. The mean PSTS measurements significantly differed from the preoperative to postoperative monitoring days at all cervical levels (p = 0.0000) using repeated measures analysis of variance in both groups. PSTS was significantly greater in PAP than in AP at level C2 on postoperative day (POD) 1 (p = 0.0001). PSTS was more prominent at levels C2–4 during PODs 2–4 for both groups. In staged combined multilevel anterior–posterior complex spine surgery, PSTS is an inevitable complication. Therefore, surgeons should monitor PSTS after surgery when performing anterior–posterior complex cervical spine surgery, especially in the immediate postoperative period after PAP surgery.
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