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Antonio A. Faundez and Jean Charles Le Huec

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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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Christopher P. Ames, Justin S. Smith, Justin K. Scheer, Shay Bess, S. Samuel Bederman, Vedat Deviren, Virginie Lafage, Frank Schwab and Christopher I. Shaffrey

Sagittal spinal misalignment (SSM) is an established cause of pain and disability. Treating physicians must be familiar with the radiographic findings consistent with SSM. Additionally, the restoration or maintenance of physiological sagittal spinal alignment after reconstructive spinal procedures is imperative to achieve good clinical outcomes. The C-7 plumb line (sagittal vertical axis) has traditionally been used to evaluate sagittal spinal alignment; however, recent data indicate that the measurement of spinopelvic parameters provides a more comprehensive assessment of sagittal spinal alignment. In this review the authors describe the proper analysis of spinopelvic alignment for surgical planning. Online videos supplement the text to better illustrate the key concepts.

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Bong Ju Moon, Justin S. Smith, Christopher P. Ames, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Virginie Lafage, Frank Schwab, Morio Matsumoto, Jong Sam Baik and Yoon Ha

OBJECT

To identify the characteristics of cervical deformities in Parkinson's disease (PD) and the role of severity of PD in the development of cervical spine deformities, the authors investigated the prevalence of the cervical deformities, cervical kyphosis (CK), and cervical positive sagittal malalignment (CPSM) in patients with PD. They also analyzed the association of severity of cervical deformities with the stage of PD in the context of global sagittal spinopelvic alignment.

METHODS

This study was a prospective assessment of consecutively treated patients (n = 89) with PD. A control group of the age- and sex-matched patients was selected from patients with degenerative cervical spine disease but without PD. Clinical and demographic parameters including age, sex, duration of PD, and Hoehn and Yahr (H&Y) stage were collected. Full-length standing radiographs were used to assess spinopelvic parameters. CK was defined as a C2–7 Cobb angle < 0°. CPSM was defined as C2–7 sagittal vertical axis (SVA) > 4 cm.

RESULTS

A significantly higher prevalence of CPSM (28% vs 1.1%, p < 0.001), but not CK (12% vs 10.1%, p = 0.635), was found in PD patients compared with control patients. Among patients with PD, those with CK were younger (62.1 vs 69.0 years, p = 0.013) and had longer duration of PD (56.4 vs 36.2 months, p = 0.034), but the severity of PD was not significantly different. Logistic regression analysis revealed that the presence of CK was associated with younger age, higher mismatch between pelvic incidence and lumbar lordosis, and lower C7–S1 SVA. The patients with CPSM had significantly greater thoracic kyphosis (TK) (p < 0.001) and a trend toward more advanced H&Y stage (p = 0.05). Logistic regression analysis revealed that CPSM was associated with male sex, greater TK, and more advanced H&Y stage.

CONCLUSIONS

Patients with PD have a significantly higher prevalence of CPSM compared with age- and sex-matched control patients with cervical degenerative disease but without PD. Among patients with PD, CK is not associated with the severity of PD but is associated with overall global sagittal malalignment. In contrast, the presence of CPSM is associated more with the severity of PD than it is with the presence of global sagittal malalignment. Collectively, these data suggest that the neuromuscular pathogenesis of PD may affect the development of CPSM more than of CK.

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Shay Bess, Jeffrey E. Harris, Alexander W. L. Turner, Virginie LaFage, Justin S. Smith, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Frank J. Schwab and Regis W. Haid Jr.

OBJECTIVE

Proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK) remains problematic following multilevel instrumented spine surgery. Previous biomechanical studies indicate that providing less rigid fixation at the cranial aspect of a long posterior instrumented construct, via transition rods or hooks at the upper instrumented vertebra (UIV), may provide a gradual transition to normal motion and prevent PJK. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the ability of posterior anchored polyethylene tethers to distribute proximal motion segment stiffness in long instrumented spine constructs.

METHODS

A finite element model of a T7–L5 spine segment was created to evaluate range of motion (ROM), intradiscal pressure, pedicle screw loads, and forces in the posterior ligament complex within and adjacent to the proximal terminus of an instrumented spine construct. Six models were tested: 1) intact spine; 2) bilateral, segmental pedicle screws (PS) at all levels from T-11 through L-5; 3) bilateral pedicle screws from T-12 to L-5 and transverse process hooks (TPH) at T-11 (the UIV); 4) pedicle screws from T-11 to L5 and 1-level tethers from T-10 to T-11 (TE-UIV+1); 5) pedicle screws from T-11 to L-5 and 2-level tethers from T-9 to T-11 (TE-UIV+2); and 6) pedicle screws and 3-level tethers from T-8 to T-11 (TE-UIV+3).

RESULTS

Proximal-segment range of motion (ROM) for the PS construct increased from 16% at UIV−1 to 91% at UIV. Proximal-segment ROM for the TPH construct increased from 27% at UIV−1 to 92% at UIV. Posterior tether constructs distributed ROM at the UIV and cranial adjacent segments most effectively; ROM for TE-UIV+1 was 14% of the intact model at UIV−1, 76% at UIV, and 98% at UIV+1. ROM for TE-UIV+2 was 10% at UIV−1, 51% at UIV, 69% at UIV+1, and 97% at UIV+2. ROM for TE-UIV+3 was 7% at UIV−1, 33% at UIV, 45% at UIV+1, and 64% at UIV+2. Proximal segment intradiscal pressures, pedicle screw loads, and ligament forces in the posterior ligament complex were progressively reduced with increasing number of posterior tethers used.

CONCLUSIONS

Finite element analysis of long instrumented spine constructs demonstrated that posterior tethers created a more gradual transition in ROM and adjacent-segment stress from the instrumented to the noninstrumented spine compared with all PS and TPH constructs. Posterior tethers may limit the biomechanical risk factor for PJK; however, further clinical research is needed to evaluate clinical efficacy.

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Kseniya Slobodyanyuk, Caroline E. Poorman, Justin S. Smith, Themistocles S. Protopsaltis, Richard Hostin, Shay Bess, Gregory M. Mundis Jr., Frank J. Schwab and Virginie Lafage

Object

The goal of this study was to determine the outcome and risk factors in patients with adult spinal deformity (ASD) who elected to receive nonoperative care.

Methods

In this retrospective study the authors reviewed a nonoperative branch of the International Spine Study Group database, derived from 10 sites across the US. Specific inclusion criteria included nonoperative treatment for ASD and the availability of Scoliosis Research Society (SRS)-22 scores and radiographic data at baseline (BL) and at 1-year (1Y) follow-up. Health-related quality of life measures were assessed using the SRS-22 and radiographic data. Changes in SRS-22 scores were evaluated by domain and expressed in number of minimum clinically important differences (MCIDs) gained or lost; BL and 1Y scores were also compared with age- and sex-matched normative references.

Results

One hundred eighty-nine patients (mean age 53 years, 86% female) met inclusion criteria. Pain was the domain with the largest offset for 43% of patients, followed by the Appearance (23%), Activity (18%), and Mental (15%) domains. On average, patients improved 0.3 MCID in Pain over 1Y, without changes in Activity or Appearance. Baseline scores significantly impacted 1Y outcomes, with up to 85% of patients in the mildest category of deformity being classified as < 1 MCID of normative reference at 1Y, versus 0% of patients with the most severe initial deformity. Baseline radiographic parameters did not correlate with outcome.

Conclusions

Patients who received nonoperative care are significantly more disabled than age- and sex-matched normative references. The likelihood for a patient to reach SRS scores similar to the normative reference at 1Y decreases with increased BL disability. Nonoperative treatment is a viable option for certain patients with ASD, and up to 24% of patients demonstrated significant improvement over 1Y with nonoperative care.

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Carolyn J. Sparrey, Jeannie F. Bailey, Michael Safaee, Aaron J. Clark, Virginie Lafage, Frank Schwab, Justin S. Smith and Christopher P. Ames

The goal of this review is to discuss the mechanisms of postural degeneration, particularly the loss of lumbar lordosis commonly observed in the elderly in the context of evolution, mechanical, and biological studies of the human spine and to synthesize recent research findings to clinical management of postural malalignment. Lumbar lordosis is unique to the human spine and is necessary to facilitate our upright posture. However, decreased lumbar lordosis and increased thoracic kyphosis are hallmarks of an aging human spinal column. The unique upright posture and lordotic lumbar curvature of the human spine suggest that an understanding of the evolution of the human spinal column, and the unique anatomical features that support lumbar lordosis may provide insight into spine health and degeneration. Considering evolution of the skeleton in isolation from other scientific studies provides a limited picture for clinicians. The evolution and development of human lumbar lordosis highlight the interdependence of pelvic structure and lumbar lordosis. Studies of fossils of human lineage demonstrate a convergence on the degree of lumbar lordosis and the number of lumbar vertebrae in modern Homo sapiens. Evolution and spine mechanics research show that lumbar lordosis is dictated by pelvic incidence, spinal musculature, vertebral wedging, and disc health. The evolution, mechanics, and biology research all point to the importance of spinal posture and flexibility in supporting optimal health. However, surgical management of postural deformity has focused on restoring posture at the expense of flexibility. It is possible that the need for complex and costly spinal fixation can be eliminated by developing tools for early identification of patients at risk for postural deformities through patient history (genetics, mechanics, and environmental exposure) and tracking postural changes over time.

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Manish K. Kasliwal, Justin S. Smith, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Leah Y. Carreon, Steven D. Glassman, Frank Schwab, Virginie Lafage, Kai-Ming G. Fu and Keith H. Bridwell

Object

In many adults with scoliosis, symptoms can be principally referable to focal pathology and can be addressed with short-segment procedures, such as decompression with or without fusion. A number of patients subsequently require more extensive scoliosis correction. However, there is a paucity of data on the impact of prior short-segment surgeries on the outcome of subsequent major scoliosis correction, which could be useful in preoperative counseling and surgical decision making. The authors' objective was to assess whether prior focal decompression or short-segment fusion of a limited portion of a larger spinal deformity impacts surgical parameters and clinical outcomes in patients who subsequently require more extensive scoliosis correction surgery.

Methods

The authors conducted a retrospective cohort analysis with propensity scoring, based on a prospective multicenter deformity database. Study inclusion criteria included a patient age ≥ 21 years, a primary diagnosis of untreated adult idiopathic or degenerative scoliosis with a Cobb angle ≥ 20°, and available clinical outcome measures at a minimum of 2 years after scoliosis surgery. Patients with prior short-segment surgery (< 5 levels) were propensity matched to patients with no prior surgery based on patient age, Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), Cobb angle, and sagittal vertical axis.

Results

Thirty matched pairs were identified. Among those patients who had undergone previous spine surgery, 30% received instrumentation, 40% underwent arthrodesis, and the mean number of operated levels was 2.4 ± 0.9 (mean ± SD). As compared with patients with no history of spine surgery, those who did have a history of prior spine surgery trended toward greater blood loss and an increased number of instrumented levels and did not differ significantly in terms of complication rates, duration of surgery, or clinical outcome based on the ODI, Scoliosis Research Society-22r, or 12-Item Short Form Health Survey Physical Component Score (p > 0.05).

Conclusions

Patients with adult scoliosis and a history of short-segment spine surgery who later undergo more extensive scoliosis correction do not appear to have significantly different complication rates or clinical improvements as compared with patients who have not had prior short-segment surgical procedures. These findings should serve as a basis for future prospective study.

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Justin K. Scheer, Jessica A. Tang, Justin S. Smith, Frank L. Acosta Jr., Themistocles S. Protopsaltis, Benjamin Blondel, Shay Bess, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Vedat Deviren, Virginie Lafage, Frank Schwab, Christopher P. Ames and the International Spine Study Group

This paper is a narrative review of normal cervical alignment, methods for quantifying alignment, and how alignment is associated with cervical deformity, myelopathy, and adjacent-segment disease (ASD), with discussions of health-related quality of life (HRQOL). Popular methods currently used to quantify cervical alignment are discussed including cervical lordosis, sagittal vertical axis, and horizontal gaze with the chin-brow to vertical angle. Cervical deformity is examined in detail as deformities localized to the cervical spine affect, and are affected by, other parameters of the spine in preserving global sagittal alignment. An evolving trend is defining cervical sagittal alignment. Evidence from a few recent studies suggests correlations between radiographic parameters in the cervical spine and HRQOL. Analysis of the cervical regional alignment with respect to overall spinal pelvic alignment is critical. The article details mechanisms by which cervical kyphotic deformity potentially leads to ASD and discusses previous studies that suggest how postoperative sagittal malalignment may promote ASD. Further clinical studies are needed to explore the relationship of cervical malalignment and the development of ASD. Sagittal alignment of the cervical spine may play a substantial role in the development of cervical myelopathy as cervical deformity can lead to spinal cord compression and cord tension. Surgical correction of cervical myelopathy should always take into consideration cervical sagittal alignment, as decompression alone may not decrease cord tension induced by kyphosis. Awareness of the development of postlaminectomy kyphosis is critical as it relates to cervical myelopathy. The future direction of cervical deformity correction should include a comprehensive approach in assessing global cervicalpelvic relationships. Just as understanding pelvic incidence as it relates to lumbar lordosis was crucial in building our knowledge of thoracolumbar deformities, T-1 incidence and cervical sagittal balance can further our understanding of cervical deformities. Other important parameters that account for the cervical-pelvic relationship are surveyed in detail, and it is recognized that all such parameters need to be validated in studies that correlate HRQOL outcomes following cervical deformity correction.

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Frank J. Schwab, Ashish Patel, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Justin S. Smith, Jean-Pierre Farcy, Oheneba Boachie-Adjei, Richard A. Hostin, Robert A. Hart, Behrooz A. Akbarnia, Douglas C. Burton, Shay Bess and Virginie Lafage

Object

Pedicle subtraction osteotomy (PSO) is a surgical procedure that is frequently performed on patients with sagittal spinopelvic malalignment. Although it allows for substantial spinopelvic realignment, suboptimal realignment outcomes have been reported in up to 33% of patients. The authors' objective in the present study was to identify differences in radiographic profiles and surgical procedures between patients achieving successful versus failed spinopelvic realignment following PSO.

Methods

This study is a multicenter retrospective consecutive PSO case series. The authors evaluated 99 cases involving patients who underwent PSO for sagittal spinopelvic malalignment. Because precise cutoffs of acceptable residual postoperative sagittal vertical axis (SVA) values have not been well defined, comparisons were focused between patient groups with a postoperative SVA that could be clearly considered either a success or a failure. Only cases in which the patients had a postoperative SVA of less than 50 mm (successful PSO realignment) or more than 100 mm (failed PSO realignment) were included in the analysis. Radiographic measures and PSO parameters were compared between successful and failed PSO realignments.

Results

Seventy-nine patients met the inclusion criteria. Successful realignment was achieved in 61 patients (77%), while realignment failed in 18 (23%). Patients with failed realignment had larger preoperative SVA (mean 217.9 vs 106.7 mm, p < 0.01), larger pelvic tilt (mean 36.9° vs 30.7°, p < 0.01), larger pelvic incidence (mean 64.2° vs 53.7°, p < 0.01), and greater lumbar lordosis–pelvic incidence mismatch (−47.1° vs −30.9°, p < 0.01) compared with those in whom realignment was successful. Failed and successful realignments were similar regarding the vertebral level of the PSO, the median size of wedge resection 22.0° (interquartile range 16.5°−28.5°), and the numerical changes in pre- and postoperative spinopelvic parameters (p > 0.05).

Conclusions

Patients with failed PSO realignments had significantly larger preoperative spinopelvic deformity than patients in whom realignment was successful. Despite their apparent need for greater correction, the patients in the failed realignment group only received the same amount of correction as those in the successfully realigned patients. A single-level standard PSO may not achieve optimal outcome in patients with high preoperative spinopelvic sagittal malalignment. Patients with large spinopelvic deformities should receive larger osteotomies or additional corrective procedures beyond PSOs to avoid undercorrection.