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Francis Lovecchio, Jonathan Charles Elysee, Renaud Lafage, Jeff Varghese, Mathieu Bannwarth, Frank Schwab, Virginie Lafage, and Han Jo Kim

OBJECTIVE

Preoperative planning for adult spinal deformity (ASD) surgery is essential to prepare the surgical team and consistently obtain postoperative alignment goals. Positional imaging may allow the surgeon to evaluate spinal flexibility and anticipate the need for more invasive techniques. The purpose of this study was to determine whether spine flexibility, defined by the change in alignment between supine and standing imaging, is associated with the need for an osteotomy in ASD surgery.

METHODS

A single-center, dual-surgeon retrospective analysis was performed of adult patients with ASD who underwent correction of a thoracolumbar deformity between 2014 and 2018 (pelvis to upper instrumented vertebra between L1 and T9). Patients were stratified into osteotomy (Ost) and no-osteotomy (NOst) cohorts according to whether an osteotomy was performed (Schwab grade 2 or higher). Demographic, surgical, and radiographic parameters were compared. The sagittal correction from intraoperative prone positioning alone (sagittal flexibility percentage [Sflex%]) was assessed by comparing the change in lumbar lordosis (LL) between preoperative supine to standing radiographs and preoperative to postoperative alignment.

RESULTS

Demographics and preoperative and postoperative sagittal alignment were similar between the Ost (n = 60, 65.9%) and NOst (n = 31, 34.1%) cohorts (p > 0.05). Of all Ost patients, 71.7% had a grade 2 osteotomy (mean 3 per patient), 21.7% had a grade 3 osteotomy, and 12.5% underwent both grade 3 and grade 2 osteotomies. Postoperatively, the NOst and Ost cohorts had similar pelvic incidence minus lumbar lordosis (PI-LL) mismatch (mean PI-LL 5.2° vs 1.2°; p = 0.205). Correction obtained through positioning (Sflex%) was significantly lower for in the osteotomy cohort (38.0% vs 76.3%, p = 0.004). A threshold of Sflex% < 70% predicted the need for osteotomy at a sensitivity of 78%, specificity of 56%, and positive predictive value of 77%.

CONCLUSIONS

The flexibility of the spine is quantitatively related to the use of an osteotomy. Prospective studies are needed to determine thresholds that may be used to standardize surgical decision-making in ASD surgery.

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Francis Lovecchio, Renaud Lafage, Jonathan Charles Elysee, Alex Huang, Bryan Ang, Mathieu Bannwarth, Han Jo Kim, Frank Schwab, and Virginie Lafage

OBJECTIVE

Supine radiographs have successfully been used for preoperative planning of lumbar deformity corrections. However, they have not been used to assess thoracic flexibility, which has recently garnered attention as a potential contributor to proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK). The purpose of this study was to compare supine to standing radiographs to assess thoracic flexibility and to determine whether thoracic flexibility is associated with PJK.

METHODS

A retrospective study was conducted of a single-institution database of patients with adult spinal deformity (ASD). Sagittal alignment parameters were compared between standing and supine and between pre- and postoperative radiographs. Thoracic flexibility was determined as the change between preoperative standing thoracic kyphosis (TK) and preoperative supine TK, and these changes were measured over the overall thoracic spine and the fused portion of the thoracic spine (i.e., TK fused). A case-control analysis was performed to compare thoracic flexibility between patients with PJK and those without (no PJK). The cohort was also stratified into three groups based on thoracic flexibility: kyphotic change (increased TK), lordotic change (decreased TK), and no change. The PJK rate was compared between the cohorts.

RESULTS

A total of 101 patients (mean 63 years old, 82.2% female, mean BMI 27.4 kg/m2) were included. Preoperative Scoliosis Research Society–Schwab ASD classification showed moderate preoperative deformity (pelvic tilt 27.7% [score ++]; pelvic incidence–lumbar lordosis mismatch 44.6% [score ++]; sagittal vertical axis 42.6% [score ++]). Postoperatively, the average offset from age-adjusted alignment goals demonstrated slight overcorrection in the study sample (−8.5° ± 15.6° pelvic incidence–lumbar lordosis mismatch, −29.2 ± 53.1 mm sagittal vertical axis, −5.4 ± 10.8 pelvic tilt, and −7.6 ± 11.7 T1 pelvic angle). TK decreased between standing and supine radiographs and increased postoperatively (TK fused: −25.3° vs −19.6° vs −29.9°; all p < 0.001). The overall rate of radiographic PJK was 23.8%. Comparisons between PJK and no PJK demonstrated that offsets from age-adjusted alignment goals were similar (p > 0.05 for all). There was a significant difference in the PJK rate when stratified by thoracic flexibility cohorts (kyphotic: 0.0% vs no change: 18.4% vs lordotic: 35.0%; p = 0.049). Logistic regression revealed thoracic flexibility (p = 0.045) as the only independent correlate of PJK.

CONCLUSIONS

Half of patients with ASD experienced significant changes in TK during supine positioning, a quality that may influence surgical strategy. Increased thoracic flexibility is associated with PJK, possibly secondary to fusing the patient’s spine in a flattened position intraoperatively.

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Peter G. Passias, Haddy Alas, Sara Naessig, Han Jo Kim, Renaud Lafage, Christopher Ames, Eric Klineberg, Katherine Pierce, Waleed Ahmad, Douglas Burton, Bassel Diebo, Shay Bess, D. Kojo Hamilton, Munish Gupta, Paul Park, Breton Line, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Justin S. Smith, Frank Schwab, Virginie Lafage, and the International Spine Study Group

OBJECTIVE

The goal of this study was to assess the conversion rate from baseline cervical alignment to postoperative cervical deformity (CD) and the corresponding proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK) rate in patients undergoing thoracolumbar adult spinal deformity (ASD) surgery.

METHODS

The operative records of patients with ASD with complete radiographic data beginning at baseline up to 3 years were included. Patients with no baseline CD were postoperatively stratified by Ames CD criteria (T1 slope–cervical lordosis mismatch [TS-CL] > 20°, cervical sagittal vertical axis [cSVA] > 40 mm), where CD was defined as fulfilling one or more of the Ames criteria. Severe CD was defined as TS-CL > 30° or cSVA > 60 mm. Follow-up intervals were established after ASD surgery, with 6 weeks postoperatively defined as early; 6 weeks–1 year as intermediate; 1–2 years as late; and 2–3 years as long-term. Descriptive analyses and McNemar tests identified the CD conversion rate, PJK rate (< −10° change in uppermost instrumented vertebra and the superior endplate of the vertebra 2 levels superior to the uppermost instrumented vertebra), and specific alignment parameters that converted.

RESULTS

Two hundred sixty-six patients who underwent ASD surgery (mean age 59.7 years, 77.4% female) met the inclusion criteria; 103 of these converted postoperatively, and the remaining 163 did not meet conversion criteria. Thirty-eight patients converted to CD early, 26 converted at the intermediate time point, 29 converted late, and 10 converted in the long-term. At conversion, the early group had the highest mean TS-CL at 25.4° ± 8.5° and the highest mean cSVA at 33.6 mm—both higher than any other conversion group. The long-term group had the highest mean C2–7 angle at 19.7° and the highest rate of PJK compared to other groups (p = 0.180). The early group had the highest rate of conversion to severe CD, with 9 of 38 patients having severe TS-CL and only 1 patient per group converting to severe cSVA. Seven patients progressed from having only malaligned TS-CL at baseline (with normal cSVA) to CD with both malaligned TS-CL and cSVA by 6 weeks. Conversely, only 2 patients progressed from malaligned cSVA to both malaligned cSVA and TS-CL. By 1 year, the former number increased from 7 to 26 patients, and the latter increased from 2 to 20 patients. The revision rate was highest in the intermediate group at 48.0%, versus the early group at 19.2%, late group at 27.3%, and long-term group at 20% (p = 0.128). A higher pelvic incidence–lumbar lordosis mismatch, lower thoracic kyphosis, and a higher thoracic kyphosis apex immediately postoperatively significantly predicted earlier rather than later conversion (all p < 0.05). Baseline lumbar lordosis, pelvic tilt, and sacral slope were not significant predictors.

CONCLUSIONS

Patients with ASD with normative cervical alignment who converted to CD after thoracolumbar surgery had varying radiographic findings based on timing of conversion. Although the highest number of patients converted within 6 weeks postoperatively, patients who converted in the late or long-term follow-up intervals had higher rates of concurrent PJK and greater radiographic progression.

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Themistocles S. Protopsaltis, Nicholas Stekas, Justin S. Smith, Alexandra Soroceanu, Renaud Lafage, Alan H. Daniels, Han Jo Kim, Peter G. Passias, Gregory M. Mundis Jr., Eric O. Klineberg, D. Kojo Hamilton, Munish Gupta, Virginie Lafage, Robert A. Hart, Frank Schwab, Douglas C. Burton, Shay Bess, Christopher I. Shaffrey, and Christopher P. Ames

OBJECTIVE

Cervical deformity (CD) patients have severe disability and poor health status. However, little is known about how patients with rigid CD compare with those with flexible CD. The main objectives of this study were to 1) assess whether patients with rigid CD have worse baseline alignment and therefore require more aggressive surgical corrections and 2) determine whether patients with rigid CD have similar postoperative outcomes as those with flexible CD.

METHODS

This is a retrospective review of a prospective, multicenter CD database. Rigid CD was defined as cervical lordosis (CL) change < 10° between flexion and extension radiographs, and flexible CD was defined as a CL change ≥ 10°. Patients with rigid CD were compared with those with flexible CD in terms of cervical alignment and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) at baseline and at multiple postoperative time points. The patients were also compared in terms of surgical and intraoperative factors such as operative time, blood loss, and number of levels fused.

RESULTS

A total of 127 patients met inclusion criteria (32 with rigid and 95 with flexible CD, 63.4% of whom were females; mean age 60.8 years; mean BMI 27.4); 47.2% of cases were revisions. Rigid CD was associated with worse preoperative alignment in terms of T1 slope minus CL, T1 slope, C2–7 sagittal vertical axis (cSVA), and C2 slope (C2S; all p < 0.05). Postoperatively, patients with rigid CD had an increased mean C2S (29.1° vs 22.2°) at 3 months and increased cSVA (47.1 mm vs 37.5 mm) at 1 year (p < 0.05) compared with those with flexible CD. Patients with rigid CD had more posterior levels fused (9.5 vs 6.3), fewer anterior levels fused (1 vs 2.0), greater blood loss (1036.7 mL vs 698.5 mL), more 3-column osteotomies (40.6% vs 12.6%), greater total osteotomy grade (6.5 vs 4.5), and mean osteotomy grade per level (3.3 vs 2.1) (p < 0.05 for all). There were no significant differences in baseline HRQOL scores, the rate of distal junctional kyphosis, or major/minor complications between patients with rigid and flexible CD. Both rigid and flexible CD patients reported significant improvements from baseline to 1 year according to the numeric rating scale for the neck (−2.4 and −2.7, respectively), Neck Disability Index (−8.4 and −13.3, respectively), modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association score (0.1 and 0.6), and EQ-5D (0.01 and 0.05) (p < 0.05). However, HRQOL changes from baseline to 1 year did not differ between rigid and flexible CD patients.

CONCLUSIONS

Patients with rigid CD have worse baseline cervical malalignment compared with those with flexible CD but do not significantly differ in terms of baseline disability. Rigid CD was associated with more invasive surgery and more aggressive corrections, resulting in increased operative time and blood loss. Despite more extensive surgeries, rigid CD patients had equivalent improvements in HRQOL compared with flexible CD patients. This study quantifies the importance of analyzing flexion-extension images, creating a prognostic tool for surgeons planning CD correction, and counseling patients who are considering CD surgery.

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Yoji Ogura, Jeffrey L. Gum, Alex Soroceanu, Alan H. Daniels, Breton Line, Themistocles Protopsaltis, Richard A. Hostin, Peter G. Passias, Douglas C. Burton, Justin S. Smith, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Virginie Lafage, Renaud Lafage, Eric O. Klineberg, Han Jo Kim, Andrew Harris, Khaled Kebaish, Frank Schwab, Shay Bess, Christopher P. Ames, Leah Y. Carreon, and the International Spine Study Group (ISSG)

OBJECTIVE

The shared decision-making (SDM) process provides an opportunity to answer frequently asked questions (FAQs). The authors aimed to present a concise list of answers to FAQs to aid in SDM for adult spinal deformity (ASD) surgery.

METHODS

From a prospective, multicenter ASD database, patients enrolled between 2008 and 2016 who underwent fusions of 5 or more levels with a minimum 2-year follow-up were included. All deformity types were included to provide general applicability. The authors compiled a list of FAQs from patients undergoing ASD surgery and used a retrospective analysis to provide answers. All responses are reported as either the means or the proportions reaching the minimal clinically important difference at the 2-year follow-up interval.

RESULTS

Of 689 patients with ASD who were eligible for 2-year follow-up, 521 (76%) had health-related quality-of-life scores available at the time of that follow-up. The mean age at the initial surgery was 58.2 years, and 78% of patients were female. The majority (73%) underwent surgery with a posterior-only approach. The mean number of fused levels was 12.2. Revision surgery accounted for 48% of patients. The authors answered 12 FAQs as follows:

1. Will my pain improve? Back and leg pain will both be reduced by approximately 50%.

2. Will my activity level improve? Approximately 65% of patients feel improvement in their activity level.

3. Will I feel better about myself? More than 70% of patients feel improvement in their appearance.

4. Is there a chance I will get worse? 4.1% feel worse at 2 years postoperatively.

5. What is the likelihood I will have a complication? 67.8% will have a major or minor complication, with 47.8% having a major complication.

6. Will I need another surgery? 25.0% will have a reoperation within 2 years.

7. Will I regret having surgery? 6.5% would not choose the same treatment.

8. Will I get a blood transfusion? 73.7% require a blood transfusion.

9. How long will I stay in the hospital? You need to stay 8.1 days on average.

10. Will I have to go to the ICU? 76.0% will have to go to the ICU.

11. Will I be able to return to work? More than 70% will be working at 1 year postoperatively.

12. Will I be taller after surgery? You will be 1.1 cm taller on average.

CONCLUSIONS

The above list provides concise, practical answers to FAQs encountered in the SDM process while counseling patients for ASD surgery.

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Alan H. Daniels, Daniel B. C. Reid, Wesley M. Durand, D. Kojo Hamilton, Peter G. Passias, Han Jo Kim, Themistocles S. Protopsaltis, Virginie Lafage, Justin S. Smith, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Munish Gupta, Eric Klineberg, Frank Schwab, Douglas Burton, Shay Bess, Christopher P. Ames, Robert A. Hart, and the International Spine Study Group

OBJECTIVE

Optimal patient selection for upper-thoracic (UT) versus lower-thoracic (LT) fusion during adult spinal deformity (ASD) correction is challenging. Radiographic and clinical outcomes following UT versus LT fusion remain incompletely understood. The purposes of this study were: 1) to evaluate demographic, radiographic, and surgical characteristics associated with choice of UT versus LT fusion endpoint; and 2) to evaluate differences in radiographic, clinical, and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) outcomes following UT versus LT fusion for ASD.

METHODS

Retrospective review of a prospectively collected multicenter ASD database was performed. Patients with ASD who underwent fusion from the sacrum/ilium to the LT (T9–L1) or UT (T1–6) spine were compared for demographic, radiographic, and surgical characteristics. Outcomes including proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK), reoperation, rod fracture, pseudarthrosis, overall complications, 2-year change in alignment parameters, and 2-year HRQOL metrics (Lumbar Stiffness Disability Index, Scoliosis Research Society-22r questionnaire, Oswestry Disability Index) were compared after controlling for confounding factors via multivariate analysis.

RESULTS

Three hundred three patients (169 LT, 134 UT) were evaluated. Independent predictors of UT fusion included greater thoracic kyphosis (odds ratio [OR] 0.97 per degree, p = 0.0098), greater coronal Cobb angle (OR 1.06 per degree, p < 0.0001), and performance of a 3-column osteotomy (3-CO; OR 2.39, p = 0.0351). While associated with longer operative times (ratio 1.13, p < 0.0001) and greater estimated blood loss (ratio 1.31, p = 0.0018), UT fusions resulted in greater sagittal vertical axis improvement (−59.5 vs −41.0 mm, p = 0.0035) and lower PJK rates (OR 0.49, p = 0.0457). No significant differences in postoperative HRQOL measures, reoperation, or overall complication rates were detected between groups (all p > 0.1).

CONCLUSIONS

Greater deformity and need for 3-CO increased the likelihood of UT fusion. Despite longer operative times and greater blood loss, UT fusions resulted in better sagittal correction and lower 2-year PJK rates following surgery for ASD. While continued surveillance is necessary, this information may inform patient counseling and surgical decision-making.

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The comprehensive anatomical spinal osteotomy and anterior column realignment classification

Presented at the 2018 AANS/CNS Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves

Juan S. Uribe, Frank Schwab, Gregory M. Mundis Jr., David S. Xu, Jacob Januszewski, Adam S. Kanter, David O. Okonkwo, Serena S. Hu, Deviren Vedat, Robert Eastlack, Pedro Berjano, and Praveen V. Mummaneni

OBJECTIVE

Spinal osteotomies and anterior column realignment (ACR) are procedures that allow preservation or restoration of spine lordosis. Variations of these techniques enable different degrees of segmental, regional, and global sagittal realignment. The authors propose a comprehensive anatomical classification system for ACR and its variants based on the level of technical complexity and invasiveness. This serves as a common language and platform to standardize clinical and radiographic outcomes for the utilization of ACR.

METHODS

The proposed classification is based on 6 anatomical grades of ACR, including anterior longitudinal ligament (ALL) release, with varying degrees of posterior column release or osteotomies. Additionally, a surgical approach (anterior, lateral, or posterior) was added. Reliability of the classification was evaluated by an analysis of 16 clinical cases, rated twice by 14 different spine surgeons, and calculation of Fleiss kappa coefficients.

RESULTS

The 6 grades of ACR are as follows: grade A, ALL release with hyperlordotic cage, intact posterior elements; grade 1 (ACR + Schwab grade 1), additional resection of the inferior facet and joint capsule; grade 2 (ACR + Schwab grade 2), additional resection of both superior and inferior facets, interspinous ligament, ligamentum flavum, lamina, and spinous process; grade 3 (ACR + Schwab grade 3), additional adjacent-level 3-column osteotomy including pedicle subtraction osteotomy; grade 4 (ACR + Schwab grade 4), 2-level distal 3-column osteotomy including pedicle subtraction osteotomy and disc space resection; and grade 5 (ACR + Schwab grade 5), complete or partial removal of a vertebral body and both adjacent discs with or without posterior element resection. Intraobserver and interobserver reliability were 97% and 98%, respectively, across the 14-reviewer cohort.

CONCLUSIONS

The proposed anatomical realignment classification provides a consistent description of the various posterior and anterior column release/osteotomies. This reliability study confirmed that the classification is consistent and reproducible across a diverse group of spine surgeons.

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Justin K. Scheer, Taemin Oh, Justin S. Smith, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Alan H. Daniels, Daniel M. Sciubba, D. Kojo Hamilton, Themistocles S. Protopsaltis, Peter G. Passias, Robert A. Hart, Douglas C. Burton, Shay Bess, Renaud Lafage, Virginie Lafage, Frank Schwab, Eric O. Klineberg, Christopher P. Ames, and the International Spine Study Group

OBJECTIVE

Pseudarthrosis can occur following adult spinal deformity (ASD) surgery and can lead to instrumentation failure, recurrent pain, and ultimately revision surgery. In addition, it is one of the most expensive complications of ASD surgery. Risk factors contributing to pseudarthrosis in ASD have been described; however, a preoperative model predicting the development of pseudarthrosis does not exist. The goal of this study was to create a preoperative predictive model for pseudarthrosis based on demographic, radiographic, and surgical factors.

METHODS

A retrospective review of a prospectively maintained, multicenter ASD database was conducted. Study inclusion criteria consisted of adult patients (age ≥ 18 years) with spinal deformity and surgery for the ASD. From among 82 variables assessed, 21 were used for model building after applying collinearity testing, redundancy, and univariable predictor importance ≥ 0.90. Variables included demographic data along with comorbidities, modifiable surgical variables, baseline coronal and sagittal radiographic parameters, and baseline scores for health-related quality of life measures. Patients groups were determined according to their Lenke radiographic fusion type at the 2-year follow-up: bilateral or unilateral fusion (union) or pseudarthrosis (nonunion). A decision tree was constructed, and internal validation was accomplished via bootstrapped training and testing data sets. Accuracy and the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) were calculated to evaluate the model.

RESULTS

A total of 336 patients were included in the study (nonunion: 105, union: 231). The model was 91.3% accurate with an AUC of 0.94. From 82 initial variables, the top 21 covered a wide range of areas including preoperative alignment, comorbidities, patient demographics, and surgical use of graft material.

CONCLUSIONS

A model for predicting the development of pseudarthrosis at the 2-year follow-up was successfully created. This model is the first of its kind for complex predictive analytics in the development of pseudarthrosis for patients with ASD undergoing surgical correction and can aid in clinical decision-making for potential preventative strategies.

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Michael Akbar, Haidara Almansour, Renaud Lafage, Bassel G. Diebo, Bernd Wiedenhöfer, Frank Schwab, Virginie Lafage, and Wojciech Pepke

OBJECTIVE

The goal of this study was to investigate the impact of thoracic and lumbar alignment on cervical alignment in patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS).

METHODS

Eighty-one patients with AIS who had a Cobb angle > 40° and full-length spine radiographs were included. Radiographs were analyzed using dedicated software to measure pelvic parameters (sacral slope [SS], pelvic incidence [PI], pelvic tilt [PT]); regional parameters (C1 slope, C0–C2 angle, chin-brow vertical angle [CBVA], slope of line of sight [SLS], McRae slope, McGregor slope [MGS], C2–7 [cervical lordosis; CL], C2–7 sagittal vertical axis [SVA], C2–T3, C2–T3 SVA, C2–T1 Harrison measurement [C2–T1 Ha], T1 slope, thoracic kyphosis [TK], lumbar lordosis [LL], and PI-LL mismatch); and global parameters (SVA). Patients were stratified by their lumbar alignment into hyperlordotic (LL > 59.7°) and normolordotic (LL 39.3° to 59.7°) groups and also, based on their thoracic alignment, into hypokyphotic (TK < −33.1°) and normokyphotic (TK −33.1° to −54.9°) groups. Finally, they were grouped based on their global alignment into either an anterior-aligned group or a posterior-aligned group.

RESULTS

The lumbar hyperlordotic group, in comparison to the normolordotic group, had a significantly larger LL, SS, PI (all p < 0.001), and TK (p = 0.014) and a significantly smaller PI-LL mismatch (p = 0.001). Lumbar lordosis had no influence on local cervical parameters.

The thoracic hypokyphotic group had a significantly larger PI-LL mismatch (p < 0.002) and smaller T1 slope (p < 0.001), and was significantly more posteriorly aligned than the normokyphotic group (−15.02 ± 8.04 vs 13.54 ± 6.17 [mean ± SEM], p = 0.006). The patients with hypokyphotic AIS had a kyphotic cervical spine (cervical kyphosis [CK]) (p < 0.001). Furthermore, a posterior-aligned cervical spine in terms of C2–7 SVA (p < 0.006) and C2–T3 SVA (p < 0.001) was observed in the thoracic hypokyphotic group.

Comparing patients in terms of global alignment, the posterior-aligned group had a significantly smaller T1 slope (p < 0.001), without any difference in terms of pelvic, lumbar, and thoracic parameters when compared to the anterior-aligned group. The posterior-aligned group also had a CK (−9.20 ± 1.91 vs 5.21 ± 2.95 [mean ± SEM], p < 0.001) and a more posterior-aligned cervical spine, as measured by C2–7 SVA (p = 0.003) and C2–T3 SVA (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Alignment of the cervical spine is closely related to thoracic curvature and global alignment. In patients with AIS, a hypokyphotic thoracic alignment or posterior global alignment was associated with a global cervical kyphosis. Interestingly, upper cervical and cranial parameters were not statistically different in all investigated groups, meaning that the upper cervical spine was not recruited for compensation in order to maintain a horizontal gaze.

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Renaud Lafage, Ibrahim Obeid, Barthelemy Liabaud, Shay Bess, Douglas Burton, Justin S. Smith, Cyrus Jalai, Richard Hostin, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Christopher Ames, Han Jo Kim, Eric Klineberg, Frank Schwab, Virginie Lafage, and the International Spine Study Group

OBJECTIVE

The surgical correction of adult spinal deformity (ASD) often involves modifying lumbar lordosis (LL) to restore ideal sagittal alignment. However, corrections that include large changes in LL increase the risk for development of proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK). Little is known about the impact of cranial versus caudal correction in the lumbar spine on the occurrence of PJK. The goal of this study was to investigate the impact of the location of the correction on acute PJK development.

METHODS

This study was a retrospective review of a prospective multicenter database. Surgically treated ASD patients with early follow-up evaluations (6 weeks) and fusions of the full lumbosacral spine were included. Radiographic parameters analyzed included the classic spinopelvic parameters (pelvic incidence [PI], pelvic tilt [PT], PI−LL, and sagittal vertical axis [SVA]) and segmental correction. Using Glattes’ criteria, patients were stratified into PJK and noPJK groups and propensity matched by age and regional lumbar correction (ΔPI−LL). Radiographic parameters and segmental correction were compared between PJK and noPJK patients using independent t-tests.

RESULTS

After propensity matching, 312 of 483 patients were included in the analysis (mean age 64 years, 76% women, 40% with PJK). There were no significant differences between PJK and noPJK patients at baseline or postoperatively, or between changes in alignment, with the exception of thoracic kyphosis (TK) and ΔTK. PJK patients had a decrease in segmental lordosis at L4-L5-S1 (−0.6° vs 1.6°, p = 0.025), and larger increases in segmental correction at cranial levels L1-L2-L3 (9.9° vs 7.1°), T12-L1-L2 (7.3° vs 5.4°), and T11-T12-L1 (2.9° vs 0.7°) (all p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS

Although achievement of an optimal sagittal alignment is the goal of realignment surgery, dramatic lumbar corrections appear to increase the risk of PJK. This study was the first to demonstrate that patients who developed PJK underwent kyphotic changes in the L4–S1 segments while restoring LL at more cranial levels (T12–L3). These findings suggest that restoring lordosis at lower lumbar levels may result in a decreased risk of developing PJK.