Proximal junctional failure (PJF) is a severe form of proximal junctional kyphosis. Previous reports on PJF have been limited by heterogeneous cohorts and relatively short follow-ups. The authors’ objectives herein were to identify risk factors for PJF and to assess its long-term incidence and revision rates in a homogeneous cohort.
The authors reviewed data from the Adult Symptomatic Lumbar Scoliosis 1 trial (ASLS-1), a National Institutes of Health–sponsored prospective multicenter study. Inclusion criteria were an age ≥ 40 years, ASLS (Cobb angle ≥ 30° and Oswestry Disability Index [ODI] ≥ 20 or Scoliosis Research Society revised 22-item questionnaire [SRS-22r] score ≤ 4.0 in pain, function, or self-image domains), and primary thoracolumbar fusion/fixation to the sacrum/pelvis of ≥ 7 levels. PJF was defined as a postoperative proximal junctional angle (PJA) change > 20°, fracture of the uppermost instrumented vertebra (UIV) or UIV+1 with > 20% vertebral height loss, spondylolisthesis of UIV/UIV+1 > 3 mm, or UIV screw dislodgment.
One hundred sixty patients (141 women) were included in this analysis and had a median age of 62 years and a mean follow-up of 4.3 years (range 0.1–6.1 years). Forty-six patients (28.8%) had PJF at a median of 0.92 years (IQR 0.14, 1.23 years) following surgery. Based on Kaplan-Meier analyses, PJF rates at 1, 2, 3, and 4 years were 14.4%, 21.9%, 25.9%, and 27.4%, respectively. On univariate analysis, PJF was associated with greater age (p = 0.0316), greater body mass index (BMI; p = 0.0319), worse baseline patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs; ODI, SRS-22r, and SF-12 Physical Component Summary [PCS]; all p < 0.04), the use of posterior column osteotomies (PCOs; p = 0.0039), and greater postoperative thoracic kyphosis (TK; p = 0.0031) and PJA (p < 0.001). The use of UIV hooks was protective against PJF (p = 0.0340). On regression analysis (without postoperative measures), PJF was associated with greater BMI (HR 1.077, 95% CI 1.007–1.153, p = 0.0317), lower preoperative PJA (HR 0.607, 95% CI 0.407–0.906, p = 0.0146), and greater preoperative TK (HR 1.362, 95% CI 1.082–1.715, p = 0.0085). Patients with PJF had worse PROMs at the last follow-up (ODI, SRS-22r subscore and self-image, and SF-12 PCS; p < 0.04). Sixteen PJF patients (34.8%) underwent revision, and PJF recurred in 3 (18.8%).
Among 160 primary ASLS patients with a median age of 62 years and predominant coronal deformity, the PJF rate was 28.8% at a mean 4.3-year follow-up, with a revision rate of 34.8%. On univariate analysis, PJF was associated with a greater age and BMI, worse baseline PROMs, the use of PCOs, and greater postoperative TK and PJA. The use of UIV hooks was protective against PJF. On multivariate analysis (without postoperative measures), a higher risk of PJF was associated with greater BMI and preoperative TK and lower preoperative PJA.