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  • Author or Editor: Michael Fehlings x
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Dominic Maggio, Tamir T. Ailon, Justin S. Smith, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Virginie Lafage, Frank Schwab, Regis W. Haid Jr., Themistocles Protopsaltis, Eric Klineberg, Justin K. Scheer, Shay Bess, Paul M. Arnold, Jens Chapman, Michael G. Fehlings, Christopher Ames, AOSpine North America and International Spine Study Group

OBJECT

The associations among global spinal alignment, patient-reported disability, and surgical outcomes have increasingly gained attention. The assessment of global spinal alignment requires standing long-cassette anteroposterior and lateral radiographs; however, spine surgeons routinely rely only on short-segment imaging when evaluating seemingly isolated lumbar pathology. This may prohibit adequate surgical planning and may predispose surgeons to not recognize associated pathology in the thoracic spine and sagittal spinopelvic malalignment. The authors used a case-based survey questionnaire to evaluate if including long-cassette radiographs led to changes to respondents' operative plans as compared with their chosen plan when cases contained standard imaging of the involved lumbar spine only.

METHODS

A case-based survey was distributed to AOSpine International members that consisted of 15 cases of lumbar spine pathology and lumbar imaging only. The same 15 cases were then shuffled and presented a second time with additional long-cassette radiographs. Each case required participants to select a single operative plan with 5 choices ranging from least to most extensive. The cases included 5 “control” cases with normal global spinal alignment and 10 “test” cases with significant sagittal and/or coronal malalignment. Mean scores were determined for each question with higher scores representing more invasive and/or extensive operative plans.

RESULTS

Of 712 spine surgeons who started the survey, 316 (44%) completed the entire series, including 68% of surgeons with spine fellowship training and representation from more than 40 countries. For test cases, but not for control cases, there were significantly higher average surgical invasiveness scores for cases presented with long-cassette radiographs (4.2) as compared with those cases with lumbar imaging only (3.4; p = 0.002). The addition of long-cassette radiographs resulted in 82.1% of respondents recommending instrumentation up to the thoracic spine, a 23.2% increase as compared with the same cases presented with lumbar imaging only (p = 0.008).

CONCLUSIONS

This study demonstrates the importance of maintaining a low threshold for performing standing long-cassette imaging when assessing seemingly isolated lumbar pathology. Such imaging is necessary for the assessment of spinopelvic and global spinal alignment, which can be important in operative planning. Deformity, particularly positive sagittal malalignment, may go undetected unless one maintains a high index of suspicion and obtains long-cassette radiographs. It is recommended that spine surgeons recognize the prevalence and importance of such deformity when contemplating operative intervention.

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Christopher P. Ames, Justin S. Smith, Robert Eastlack, Donald J. Blaskiewicz, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Frank Schwab, Shay Bess, Han Jo Kim, Gregory M. Mundis Jr., Eric Klineberg, Munish Gupta, Michael O’Brien, Richard Hostin, Justin K. Scheer, Themistocles S. Protopsaltis, Kai-Ming G. Fu, Robert Hart, Todd J. Albert, K. Daniel Riew, Michael G. Fehlings, Vedat Deviren, Virginie Lafage and International Spine Study Group

OBJECT

Despite the complexity of cervical spine deformity (CSD) and its significant impact on patient quality of life, there exists no comprehensive classification system. The objective of this study was to develop a novel classification system based on a modified Delphi approach and to characterize the intra- and interobserver reliability of this classification.

METHODS

Based on an extensive literature review and a modified Delphi approach with an expert panel, a CSD classification system was generated. The classification system included a deformity descriptor and 5 modifiers that incorporated sagittal, regional, and global spinopelvic alignment and neurological status. The descriptors included: “C,” “CT,” and “T” for primary cervical kyphotic deformities with an apex in the cervical spine, cervicothoracic junction, or thoracic spine, respectively; “S” for primary coronal deformity with a coronal Cobb angle ≥ 15°; and “CVJ” for primary craniovertebral junction deformity. The modifiers included C2–7 sagittal vertical axis (SVA), horizontal gaze (chin-brow to vertical angle [CBVA]), T1 slope (TS) minus C2–7 lordosis (TS–CL), myelopathy (modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association [mJOA] scale score), and the Scoliosis Research Society (SRS)-Schwab classification for thoracolumbar deformity. Application of the classification system requires the following: 1) full-length standing posteroanterior (PA) and lateral spine radiographs that include the cervical spine and femoral heads; 2) standing PA and lateral cervical spine radiographs; 3) completed and scored mJOA questionnaire; and 4) a clinical photograph or radiograph that includes the skull for measurement of the CBVA. A series of 10 CSD cases, broadly representative of the classification system, were selected and sufficient radiographic and clinical history to enable classification were assembled. A panel of spinal deformity surgeons was queried to classify each case twice, with a minimum of 1 intervening week. Inter- and intrarater reliability measures were based on calculations of Fleiss k coefficient values.

RESULTS

Twenty spinal deformity surgeons participated in this study. Interrater reliability (Fleiss k coefficients) for the deformity descriptor rounds 1 and 2 were 0.489 and 0.280, respectively, and mean intrarater reliability was 0.584. For the modifiers, including the SRS-Schwab components, the interrater (round 1/round 2) and intrarater reliabilities (Fleiss k coefficients) were: C2–7 SVA (0.338/0.412, 0.584), horizontal gaze (0.779/0.430, 0.768), TS-CL (0.721/0.567, 0.720), myelopathy (0.602/0.477, 0.746), SRS-Schwab curve type (0.590/0.433, 0.564), pelvic incidence-lumbar lordosis (0.554/0.386, 0.826), pelvic tilt (0.714/0.627, 0.633), and C7-S1 SVA (0.071/0.064, 0.233), respectively. The parameter with the poorest reliability was the C7–S1 SVA, which may have resulted from differences in interpretation of positive and negative measurements.

CONCLUSIONS

The proposed classification provides a mechanism to assess CSD within the framework of global spinopelvic malalignment and clinically relevant parameters. The intra- and interobserver reliabilities suggest moderate agreement and serve as the basis for subsequent improvement and study of the proposed classification.