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.
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.
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).
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.