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Current concepts in adult cervical spine deformity surgery

Peter G. Passias, Oluwatobi O. Onafowokan, Peter Tretiakov, Pooja Dave, Jamshaid M. Mir, and Muhammad B. Janjua

Cervical spine deformity surgery has significantly evolved over recent decades. There has been substantial work performed, which has furthered the true understanding of alignment and advancements in surgical technique and instrumentation. Concomitantly, understanding of cervical spine pathology and the contributing drivers have also improved, which have influenced the development of classification systems for cervical spine deformity and the development of treatment-guiding algorithms. This article aims to provide a synopsis of the current knowledge surrounding cervical spine deformity to date, with particular focus on preoperative expected alignment targets, perioperative optimization, and the whole operative strategy.

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Should realignment goals vary based on patient frailty status in adult spinal deformity?

Presented at the 2023 AANS/CNS Joint Section on the Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves

Peter G. Passias, Jamshaid M. Mir, Tyler K. Williamson, Peter S. Tretiakov, Pooja Dave, Virginie Lafage, Renaud Lafage, and Andrew J. Schoenfeld

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this study was to adjust the sagittal age-adjusted score (SAAS) to accommodate frailty in alignment considerations and thereby increase the predictability of clinical outcomes and junctional failure.

METHODS

Surgical adult spinal deformity (ASD) patients with 2-year data were included. Frailty was assessed with the continuous ASD modified frailty index (ASD-mFI). Two-year outcomes were proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK), proximal junctional failure (PJF), major mechanical complications, and best clinical outcome (BCO), defined as Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) score < 15 and Scoliosis Research Society outcomes questionnaire total score > 4.5 by 2 years. Linear regression analysis established a 6-week score based on the component scores of SAAS, frailty, and US normal values for ODI score. Logistic regression analysis followed by conditional inference tree run forest analysis generated categorical thresholds. Multivariate analysis, controlling for age, baseline deformity, and history of revision, was used to compare outcome rates, and logistic regression generated odds ratios for the continuous score. Thirty percent of the cohort was used as a random sample for internal validation.

RESULTS

In total, 412 patients were included (mean ± SD age 60.1 ± 14.2 years, 80% female, BMI 26.9 ± 5.4 kg/m2). Baseline frailty categories were as follows: 57% not frail, 30% frail, and 14% severely frail. Overall, by 2 years, 39% of patients had developed PJK, 8% PJF, and 21% mechanical complications; 22% had undergone a reoperation; and 15% met BCO. When the cohort as a whole was assessed, the 6-week SAAS had a correlation with the development of PJK and PJF, but not mechanical complications, reoperation, or BCO. Development of mechanical complications, PJF, reoperation, and BCO demonstrated correlations with ASD-mFI (all p < 0.05). Regression analysis modifying SAAS on the basis of ODI norms and frailty generated the following equation: frailty-adjusted SAAS (FAS) = 0.108 × T1 pelvic angle + 0.162 × pelvic tilt − 0.39 × pelvic incidence − lumbar lordosis − 0.03 × ASD-mFI − 1.6771. With conditional inference tree analysis, thresholds were derived for FAS: aligned < 1.7, offset 1.7–2.2, and severely offset > 2.2. Significance between FAS categories was found for PJK, PJF, mechanical complications, reoperation, and BCO by 2 years. Binary logistic regression, controlling for baseline deformity and revision status, demonstrated significance between FAS and all 5 outcome variables (all p < 0.01). Internal validation saw each outcome variable maintain significance between categories, with even greater odds for PJF (OR 13.4, 95% CI 4.7–38.3, p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Consideration of physiological age, in addition to chronological age, may be beneficial in the management of operative goals to maximize clinical outcomes while minimizing junctional failure. This combination enables the spine surgeon to fortify a surgical plan for even the most challenging patients undergoing ASD corrective surgery.

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Does the presence of cervical deformity in patients with baseline mild myelopathy increase operative urgency in adult cervical spinal surgery? A retrospective analysis

Peter S. Tretiakov, Emmanuel Budis, Pooja Dave, Jamshaid Mir, Matthew Galetta, Nathan Lorentz, M. Burhan Janjua, Pawel P. Jankowski, and Peter G. Passias

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this study was to assess whether delaying surgical management of cervical deformity (CD) in patients with concomitant mild myelopathy increases the risk of suboptimal outcomes.

METHODS

Patients aged ≥ 18 years who had a baseline diagnosis of mild myelopathy with baseline and up to 2 years of postoperative data were assessed. Patients were categorized as having CD (CD+) or not (CD−) at baseline. Patients with symptoms of myelopathy for more than 1 year after the initial visit prior to surgery were considered delayed. Clinical and radiographic data were assessed using means comparison analyses. Multivariate regression analysis assessed correlations between increasing time to surgery and peri- and postoperative outcomes adjusted for baseline age and frailty score. Backstep logistic regression analysis assessed the risk of complications or reoperation, while controlling for baseline T1 slope minus cervical lordosis (TS-CL).

RESULTS

One hundred six patients were included (mean age 58.11 ± 11.97 years, 48% female, mean BMI 29.13 ± 6.89). Of the patients with baseline mild myelopathy, 22 (20.8%) were CD− while 84 (79.2%) were CD+. Overall, 9.5% of patients were considered to have delayed surgery. Linear regression revealed that both CD− and CD+ patients were more likely to require reoperation when there was more time between the initial visit and surgical admission (p < 0.001). Additionally, an adjusted logistic regression indicated that CD+ patients who had a greater length of time to surgery had a higher likelihood for major complications (p < 0.001). Conversely, CD+ patients who were operated on within 30 days of the initial visit had a significantly lower risk for a major complication (OR 0.901, 95% CI 0.889–1.105, p = 0.043), and a lower risk for reoperation (OR 0.954, 95% CI 0.877–1.090, p = 0.043), while controlling for the severity of deformity based on baseline TS-CL.

CONCLUSIONS

The findings of this study demonstrate that a delay in surgery after the initial visit significantly increases the risk for major complications and reoperation in patients with CD with associated mild baseline myelopathy. Early operative treatment in this patient population may lower the risk of postoperative complications.

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Natural history of adult spinal deformity: how do patients with suboptimal surgical outcomes fare relative to nonoperative counterparts?

Peter G. Passias, Rachel Joujon-Roche, Jamshaid M. Mir, Tyler K. Williamson, Peter S. Tretiakov, Bailey Imbo, Oscar Krol, Lara Passfall, Salman Ahmad, Jordan Lebovic, Stephane Owusu-Sarpong, Tomi Lanre-Amos, Themistocles Protopsaltis, Renaud Lafage, Virginie Lafage, Paul Park, Dean Chou, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Kai-Ming G. Fu, Khoi D. Than, Justin S. Smith, M. Burhan Janjua, Andrew J. Schoenfeld, Bassel G. Diebo, and Shaleen Vira

OBJECTIVE

Management of adult spinal deformity (ASD) has increasingly favored operative intervention; however, the incidence of complications and reoperations is high, and patients may fail to achieve idealized postsurgical results. This study compared health-related quality of life (HRQOL) metrics between patients with suboptimal surgical outcomes and those who underwent nonoperative management as a proxy for the natural history (NH) of ASD.

METHODS

ASD patients with 2-year data were included. Patients who were offered surgery but declined were considered nonoperative (i.e., NH) patients. Operative patients with suboptimal outcome (SOp)—defined as any reoperation, major complication, or ≥ 2 severe Scoliosis Research Society (SRS)–Schwab modifiers at follow-up—were selected for comparison. Propensity score matching (PSM) on the basis of baseline age, deformity, SRS-22 Total, and Charlson Comorbidity Index score was used to match the groups. ANCOVA and stepwise logistic regression analysis were used to assess outcomes between groups at 2 years.

RESULTS

In total, 441 patients were included (267 SOp and 174 NH patients). After PSM, 142 patients remained (71 SOp 71 and 71 NH patients). At baseline, the SOp and NH groups had similar demographic characteristics, HRQOL, and deformity (all p > 0.05). At 2 years, ANCOVA determined that NH patients had worse deformity as measured with sagittal vertical axis (36.7 mm vs 21.3 mm, p = 0.025), mismatch between pelvic incidence and lumbar lordosis (11.9° vs 2.9°, p < 0.001), and pelvic tilt (PT) (23.1° vs 20.7°, p = 0.019). The adjusted regression analysis found that SOp patients had higher odds of reaching the minimal clinically important differences in Oswestry Disability Index score (OR [95% CI] 4.5 [1.7–11.5], p = 0.002), SRS-22 Activity (OR [95% CI] 3.2 [1.5–6.8], p = 0.002), SRS-22 Pain (OR [95% CI] 2.8 [1.4–5.9], p = 0.005), and SRS-22 Total (OR [95% CI] 11.0 [3.5–34.4], p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Operative patients with SOp still experience greater improvements in deformity and HRQOL relative to the progressive radiographic and functional deterioration associated with the NH of ASD. The NH of nonoperative management should be accounted for when weighing the risks and benefits of operative intervention for ASD.

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Economic burden of nonoperative treatment of adult spinal deformity

Peter G. Passias, Waleed Ahmad, Pooja Dave, Renaud Lafage, Virginie Lafage, Jamshaid Mir, Eric O. Klineberg, Khaled M. Kabeish, Jeffrey L. Gum, Breton G. Line, Robert Hart, Douglas Burton, Justin S. Smith, Christopher P. Ames, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Frank Schwab, Richard Hostin, Thomas Buell, D. Kojo Hamilton, and Shay Bess

OBJECTIVE

The purpose of this study was to investigate the cost utility of nonoperative treatment for adult spinal deformity (ASD).

METHODS

Nonoperatively and operatively treated patients who met database criteria for ASD and in whom complete radiographic and health-related quality of life data at baseline and at 2 years were available were included. A cost analysis was completed on the PearlDiver database assessing the average cost of nonoperative treatment prior to surgical intervention based on previously published treatments (NSAIDs, narcotics, muscle relaxants, epidural steroid injections, physical therapy, and chiropractor). Utility data were calculated using the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) converted to SF-6D with published conversion methods. Quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) used a 3% discount rate to account for residual decline in life expectancy (78.7 years). Minor and major comorbidities and complications were assessed according to the CMS.gov manual’s definitions. Successful nonoperative treatment was defined as a gain in the minimum clinically importance difference (MCID) in both ODI and Scoliosis Research Society (SRS)–pain scores, and failure was defined as a loss in MCID or conversion to operative treatment. Patients with baseline ODI ≤ 20 and continued ODI of ≤ 20 at 2 years were considered nonoperative successful maintenance. The average utilization of nonoperative treatment and cost were applied to the ASD cohort.

RESULTS

A total of 824 patients were included (mean age 58.24 years, 81% female, mean body mass index 27.2 kg/m2). Overall, 75.5% of patients were in the operative and 24.5% were in the nonoperative cohort. At baseline patients in the operative cohort were significantly older, had a greater body mass index, increased pelvic tilt, and increased pelvic incidence–lumbar lordosis mismatch (all p < 0.05). With respect to deformity, patients in the operative group had higher rates of severe (i.e., ++) sagittal deformity according to SRS–Schwab modifiers for pelvic tilt, sagittal vertical axis, and pelvic incidence–lumbar lordosis mismatch (p < 0.05). At 2 years, patients in the operative cohort showed significantly increased rates of a gain in MCID for physical component summary of SF-36, ODI, and SRS-activity, SRS-pain, SRS-appearance, and SRS-mental scores. Cost analysis showed the average cost of nonoperative treatment 2 years prior to surgical intervention to be $2041. Overall, at 2 years patients in the nonoperative cohort had again in ODI of 0.36, did not show a gain in QALYs, and nonoperative treatment was determined to be cost-ineffective. However, a subset of patients in this cohort underwent successful maintenance treatment and had a decrease in ODI of 1.1 and a gain in utility of 0.006 at 2 years. If utility gained for this cohort was sustained to full life expectancy, patients’ cost per QALY was $18,934 compared to a cost per QALY gained of $70,690.79 for posterior-only and $48,273.49 for combined approach in patients in the operative cohort.

CONCLUSIONS

Patients with ASD undergoing operative treatment at baseline had greater sagittal deformity and greater improvement in health-related quality of life postoperatively compared to patients treated nonoperatively. Additionally, patients in the nonoperative cohort overall had an increase in ODI and did not show improvement in utility gained. Patients in the nonoperative cohort who had low disability and sagittal deformity underwent successful maintenance and cost-effective treatment.

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Predictors of pelvic tilt normalization: a multicenter study on the impact of regional and lower-extremity compensation on pelvic alignment after complex adult spinal deformity surgery

Pooja Dave, Renaud Lafage, Justin S. Smith, Breton G. Line, Peter S. Tretiakov, Jamshaid Mir, Bassel Diebo, Alan H. Daniels, Jeffrey L. Gum, D. Kojo Hamilton, Thomas Buell, Khoi D. Than, Kai-Ming Fu, Justin K. Scheer, Robert Eastlack, Jeffrey P. Mullin, Gregory Mundis Jr., Naobumi Hosogane, Mitsuru Yagi, Pierce Nunley, Dean Chou, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Eric O. Klineberg, Khaled M. Kebaish, Stephen Lewis, Richard A. Hostin Jr., Munish C. Gupta, Han Jo Kim, Christopher P. Ames, Robert A. Hart, Lawrence G. Lenke, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Shay Bess, Frank J. Schwab, Virginie Lafage, Douglas C. Burton, and Peter G. Passias

OBJECTIVE

The objective was to determine the degree of regional decompensation to pelvic tilt (PT) normalization after complex adult spinal deformity (ASD) surgery.

METHODS

Operative ASD patients with 1 year of PT measurements were included. Patients with normalized PT at baseline were excluded. Predicted PT was compared to actual PT, tested for change from baseline, and then compared against age-adjusted, Scoliosis Research Society–Schwab, and global alignment and proportion (GAP) scores. Lower-extremity (LE) parameters included the cranial-hip-sacrum angle, cranial-knee-sacrum angle, and cranial-ankle-sacrum angle. LE compensation was set as the 1-year upper tertile compared with intraoperative baseline. Univariate analyses were used to compare normalized and nonnormalized data against alignment outcomes. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were used to develop a model consisting of significant predictors for normalization related to regional compensation.

RESULTS

In total, 156 patients met the inclusion criteria (mean ± SD age 64.6 ± 9.1 years, BMI 27.9 ± 5.6 kg/m2, Charlson Comorbidity Index 1.9 ± 1.6). Patients with normalized PT were more likely to have overcorrected pelvic incidence minus lumbar lordosis and sagittal vertical axis at 6 weeks (p < 0.05). GAP score at 6 weeks was greater for patients with nonnormalized PT (0.6 vs 1.3, p = 0.08). At baseline, 58.5% of patients had compensation in the thoracic and cervical regions. Postoperatively, compensation was maintained by 42% with no change after matching in age-adjusted or GAP score. The patients with nonnormalized PT had increased rates of thoracic and cervical compensation (p < 0.05). Compensation in thoracic kyphosis differed between patients with normalized PT at 6 weeks and those with normalized PT at 1 year (69% vs 35%, p < 0.05). Those who compensated had increased rates of implant complications by 1 year (OR [95% CI] 2.08 [1.32–6.56], p < 0.05). Cervical compensation was maintained at 6 weeks and 1 year (56% vs 43%, p = 0.12), with no difference in implant complications (OR 1.31 [95% CI −2.34 to 1.03], p = 0.09). For the lower extremities at baseline, 61% were compensating. Matching age-adjusted alignment did not eliminate compensation at any joint (all p > 0.05). Patients with nonnormalized PT had higher rates of LE compensation across joints (all p < 0.01). Overall, patients with normalized PT at 1 year had the greatest odds of resolving LE compensation (OR 9.6, p < 0.001). Patients with normalized PT at 1 year had lower rates of implant failure (8.9% vs 19.5%, p < 0.05), rod breakage (1.3% vs 13.8%, p < 0.05), and pseudarthrosis (0% vs 4.6%, p < 0.05) compared with patients with nonnormalized PT. The complication rate was significantly lower for patients with normalized PT at 1 year (56.7% vs 66.1%, p = 0.02), despite comparable health-related quality of life scores.

CONCLUSIONS

Patients with PT normalization had greater rates of resolution in thoracic and LE compensation, leading to lower rates of complications by 1 year. Thus, consideration of both the lower extremities and thoracic regions in surgical planning is vital to preventing adverse outcomes and maintaining pelvic alignment.