The most catastrophic symptom of proximal junctional failure (PJF) following long instrumented fusion surgery for adult spinal deformity (ASD) is neurological deficits. Although previous reports have shown that PJF usually developed during the early postoperative period, some patients showed late neurological deficits. The aim of this study was to report the incidence, characteristics, and surgical outcomes of PJF with late neurological deficits.
Patients surgically treated for ASD at a single institution were retrospectively reviewed. Among them, the patients requiring revision surgery for newly developed neurological deficits at least 6 months after the initial surgery were included. Patient demographic, radiographic, surgical, and clinical data were investigated. Neurological status was assessed using the Frankel grading system.
PJF with late neurological deficits developed in 18 of 385 patients (4.7%). The mean age at the onset of neurological deficits was 72.0 ± 6.0 years, and the median time from the initial surgery was 4.5 years. The most common pathology of PJF was adjacent disc degeneration and subsequent canal stenosis (11 patients). Five patients showed disc degeneration with aseptic bone destruction. Fractures at the upper instrumented vertebra (UIV), UIV + 1, and UIV + 2 occurred in 2, 3, and 2 patients, respectively. Ossification of the yellow ligament, which had not been found at the first surgery, was identified in 6 patients. Eight patients showed improvement of their neurological deficits and 10 patients showed no improvement by the final follow-up. Perioperative major complications occurred in 8 of 18 patients.
The incidence of PJF with late neurological deficits following ASD surgery was 4.7% in this cohort. The patients showed several morphological features. After revision surgery, perioperative complications were common and the prognosis for improved neurological status was not favorable.