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Vedat Deviren, Justin K. Scheer and Christopher P. Ames

Object

Sagittal imbalance of the cervicothoracic spine often causes severe pain and loss of horizontal gaze. Historically, the Smith-Peterson osteotomy has been used to restore sagittal balance. Cervicothoracic junction pedicle subtraction osteotomy (PSO) offers more controlled closure and greater biomechanical stability but has been infrequently reported in the literature. This study details the cervicothoracic PSO technique in 11 cases and correlates clinical kyphosis (chin-brow to vertical angle [CBVA]) with radiographic measurements.

Methods

Between February 2008 and September 2010, 11 patients (mean age 70 years) underwent a modified PSO (10 at C-7, 1 at T-1) for treatment of sagittal imbalance. Preoperative and postoperative sagittal plane radiographic measurements were made. The CBVA was measured on clinical photographs. Operative technique and perioperative correction were reported for all 11 patients and long-term follow-up data was reported for 9 patients, in whom the mean duration of follow-up was 23 months. Outcome measures used for these 9 patients were the Neck Disability Index, the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36), and a visual analog scale for neck pain.

Results

The mean values for estimated blood loss, surgical time, and hospital stay in the 11 patients were 1100 ml, 4.3 hours, and 9.9 days, respectively. The mean preoperative and immediate postoperative values (± SD) for cervical sagittal imbalance were 7.9 ± 1.4 cm and 3.4 ± 1.7 cm. The mean overall correction was 4.5 ± 1.5 cm (42.8%), the mean PSO correction 19.0°, and the mean CBVA correction 36.7°. There was essentially no correlation between preoperative C2–T1 radiographic kyphosis and preoperative CBVA (R2 = 0.0165). There was a moderate correlation with PSO correction angle and postoperative CBVA (R2 = 0.38). There was a significant decrease in both the Neck Disability Index (51.1 to 38.6, p = 0.03) and visual analog scale scores for neck pain (8.1 to 3.9, p = 0.0021). The SF-36 physical component summary scores increased by 18.4% (30.2 to 35.8) with no neurological complications.

Conclusions

The cervicothoracic junction PSO is a safe and effective procedure for the management of cervicothoracic kyphotic deformity. It results in excellent correction of cervical kyphosis and CBVA with a controlled closure and improvement in health-related quality-of-life measures even at early time points.

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Jon Park, Justin K. Scheer, T. Jesse Lim, Vedat Deviren and Christopher P. Ames

Object

The Goel technique, in which C1–2 intraarticular spacers are used, may be performed to restore stability to a disrupted atlantoaxial complex in conjunction with the Harms technique of placing polyaxial screws and bilateral rods. However, it has yet to be determined biomechanically whether the addition of the C1–2 joint spacers increases the multiaxial rigidity of the fixation construct. The goal of this study was to quantify changes in multiaxial rigidity of the combined Goel-Harms technique with the addition of C1–2 intraarticular spacers.

Methods

Seven cadaveric cervical spines (occiput–C2) were submitted to nondestructive flexion-extension, lateral bending, and axial rotation tests in a material testing machine spine tester. The authors applied 1.5 Nm at a rate of 0.1 Nm/second and held it constant for 10 seconds. The specimens were loaded 3 times, and data were collected on the third cycle. Testing of the specimens was performed for the following groups: 1) intact (I); 2) with the addition of C-1 lateral mass/C-2 pedicle screws and rod system (I+SR); 3) with C1–2 joint capsule incision, decortication (2 mm on top and bottom of each joint [that is, the C-1 and C-2 surface) and addition of bilateral C1–2 intraarticular spacers at C1–2 junction to the screws and rods (I+SR+C); 4) after removal of the posterior rods and only the bilateral spacers in place (I+C); 5) after removal of spacers and further destabilization with simulated odontoidectomy for a completely destabilized case (D); 6) with addition of posterior rods to the destabilized case (D+SR); and 7) with addition of bilateral C1–2 intraarticular spacers at C1–2 junction to the destabilized case (D+SR+C). The motion of C-1 was measured by a 3D motion tracking system and the motion of C-2 was measured by the rotational sensor of the testing system. The range of motion (ROM) and neutral zone (NZ) across C-1 and C-2 were evaluated.

Results

For the intact spine test groups, the addition of screws/rods (I+SR) and screws/rods/cages (I+SR+C) significantly reduced ROM and NZ compared with the intact spine (I) for flexion-extension and axial rotation (p < 0.05) but not lateral bending (p > 0.05). The 2 groups were not significantly different from each other in any bending mode for ROM and NZ, but in the destabilized condition the addition of screws/rods (D+SR) and screws/rods/cages (D+SR+C) significantly reduced ROM and NZ compared with the destabilized spine (D) in all bending modes (p < 0.05). Furthermore, the addition of the C1–2 intraarticular spacers (D+SR+C) significantly reduced ROM (flexion-extension and axial rotation) and NZ (lateral bending) compared with the screws and rods alone (D+SR).

Conclusions

Study result indicated that both the Goel and Harms techniques alone and with the addition of the C1–2 intraarticular spacers to the Goel-Harms technique are advantageous for stabilizing the atlantoaxial segment. The Goel technique combined with placement of a screw/rod construct appears to result in additional construct rigidity beyond the screw/rod technique and appears to be more useful in very unstable cases.

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Joshua Bakhsheshian, Nader S. Dahdaleh, Shayan Fakurnejad, Justin K. Scheer and Zachary A. Smith

Object

The overall evidence for nonoperative management of patients with traumatic thoracolumbar burst fractures is unknown. There is no agreement on the optimal method of conservative treatment. Recent randomized controlled trials that have compared nonoperative to operative treatment of thoracolumbar burst fractures without neurological deficits yielded conflicting results. By assessing the level of evidence on conservative management through validated methodologies, clinicians can assess the availability of critically appraised literature. The purpose of this study was to examine the level of evidence for the use of conservative management in traumatic thoracolumbar burst fractures.

Methods

A comprehensive search of the English literature over the past 20 years was conducted using PubMed (MEDLINE). The inclusion criteria consisted of burst fractures resulting from a traumatic mechanism, and fractures of the thoracic or lumbar spine. The exclusion criteria consisted of osteoporotic burst fractures, pathological burst fractures, and fractures located in the cervical spine. Of the studies meeting the inclusion/exclusion criteria, any study in which nonoperative treatment was used was included in this review.

Results

One thousand ninety-eight abstracts were reviewed and 447 papers met inclusion/exclusion criteria, of which 45 were included in this review. In total, there were 2 Level-I, 7 Level-II, 9 Level-III, 25 Level-IV, and 2 Level-V studies. Of the 45 studies, 16 investigated conservative management techniques, 20 studies compared operative to nonoperative treatments, and 9 papers investigated the prognosis of conservative management.

Conclusions

There are 9 high-level studies (Levels I–II) that have investigated the conservative management of traumatic thoracolumbar burst fractures. In neurologically intact patients, there is no superior conservative management technique over another as supported by a high level of evidence. The conservative technique can be based on patient and surgeon preference, comfort, and access to resources. A high level of evidence demonstrated similar functional outcomes with conservative management when compared with open surgical operative management in patients who were neurologically intact. The presence of a neurological deficit is not an absolute contraindication for conservative treatment as supported by a high level of evidence. However, the majority of the literature excluded patients with neurological deficits. More evidence is needed to further classify the appropriate burst fractures for conservative management to decrease variables that may impact the prognosis.

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Alejandro J. Lopez, Justin K. Scheer, Kayla E. Leibl, Zachary A. Smith, Brian J. Dlouhy and Nader S. Dahdaleh

The craniovertebral junction (CVJ) has unique anatomical structures that separate it from the subaxial cervical spine. In addition to housing vital neural and vascular structures, the majority of cranial flexion, extension, and axial rotation is accomplished at the CVJ. A complex combination of osseous and ligamentous supports allow for stability despite a large degree of motion. An understanding of anatomy and biomechanics is essential to effectively evaluate and address the various pathological processes that may affect this region. Therefore, the authors present an up-to-date narrative review of CVJ anatomy, normal and pathological biomechanics, and fixation techniques.

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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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Emily K. Miller, Brian J. Neuman, Amit Jain, Alan H. Daniels, Tamir Ailon, Daniel M. Sciubba, Khaled M. Kebaish, Virginie Lafage, Justin K. Scheer, Justin S. Smith, Shay Bess, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Christopher P. Ames and the International Spine Study Group

OBJECTIVE

The goal of this study was to analyze the value of an adult spinal deformity frailty index (ASD-FI) in preoperative risk stratification. Preoperative risk assessment is imperative before procedures known to have high complication rates, such as ASD surgery. Frailty has been associated with risk of complications in trauma surgery, and preoperative frailty assessments could improve the accuracy of risk stratification by providing a comprehensive analysis of patient factors that contribute to an increased risk of complications.

METHODS

Using 40 variables, the authors calculated frailty scores with a validated method for 417 patients (enrolled between 2010 and 2014) with a minimum 2-year follow-up in an ASD database. On the basis of these scores, the authors categorized patients as not frail (NF) (< 0.3 points), frail (0.3–0.5 points), or severely frail (SF) (> 0.5 points). The correlation between frailty category and incidence of complications was analyzed.

RESULTS

The overall mean ASD-FI score was 0.33 (range 0.0–0.8). Compared with NF patients (n = 183), frail patients (n = 158) and SF patients (n = 109) had longer mean hospital stays (1.2 and 1.6 times longer, respectively; p < 0.001). The adjusted odds of experiencing a major intraoperative or postoperative complication were higher for frail patients (OR 2.8) and SF patients ( 4.1) compared with NF patients (p < 0.01). For frail and SF patients, respectively, the adjusted odds of developing proximal junctional kyphosis (OR 2.8 and 3.1) were higher than those for NF patients. The SF patients had higher odds of developing pseudarthrosis (OR 13.0), deep wound infection (OR 8.0), and wound dehiscence (OR 13.4) than NF patients (p < 0.05), and they had 2.1 times greater odds of reoperation (p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS

Greater patient frailty, as measured by the ASD-FI, was associated with worse outcome in many common quality and value metrics, including greater risk of major complications, proximal junctional kyphosis, pseudarthrosis, deep wound infection, wound dehiscence, reoperation, and longer hospital stay.

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Michael M. Safaee, Vedat Deviren, Cecilia Dalle Ore, Justin K. Scheer, Darryl Lau, Joseph A. Osorio, Fred Nicholls and Christopher P. Ames

OBJECTIVE

Proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK) is a well-recognized, yet incompletely defined, complication of adult spinal deformity surgery. There is no standardized definition for PJK, but most studies describe PJK as an increase in the proximal junctional angle (PJA) of greater than 10°–20°. Ligament augmentation is a novel strategy for PJK reduction that provides strength to the upper instrumented vertebra (UIV) and adjacent segments while also reducing junctional stress at those levels.

METHODS

In this study, ligament augmentation was used in a consecutive series of adult spinal deformity patients at a single institution. Patient demographics, including age; sex; indication for surgery; revision surgery; surgical approach; and use of 3-column osteotomies, vertebroplasty, or hook fixation at the UIV, were collected. The PJA was measured preoperatively and at last follow-up using 36-inch radiographs. Data on change in PJA and need for revision surgery were collected. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed to identify factors associated with change in PJA and proximal junctional failure (PJF), defined as PJK requiring surgical correction.

RESULTS

A total of 200 consecutive patients were included: 100 patients before implementation of ligament augmentation and 100 patients after implementation of this technique. The mean age of the ligament augmentation cohort was 66 years, and 67% of patients were women. Over half of these cases (51%) were revision surgeries, with 38% involving a combined anterior or lateral and posterior approach. The mean change in PJA was 6° in the ligament augmentation group compared with 14° in the control group (p < 0.001). Eighty-four patients had a change in PJA of less than 10°. In a multivariate linear regression model, age (p = 0.016), use of hook fixation at the UIV (p = 0.045), and use of ligament augmentation (p < 0.001) were associated with a change in PJA. In a separate model, only ligament augmentation (OR 0.193, p = 0.012) showed a significant association with PJF.

CONCLUSIONS

Ligament augmentation represents a novel technique for the prevention of PJK and PJF. Compared with a well-matched historical cohort, ligament augmentation is associated with a significant decrease in PJK and PJF. These data support the implementation of ligament augmentation in surgery for adult spinal deformity, particularly in patients with a high risk of developing PJK and PJF.

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Justin K. Scheer, Jessica A. Tang, Vedat Deviren, Frank Acosta, Jenni M. Buckley, Murat Pekmezci, R. Trigg McClellan and Christopher P. Ames

Object

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a genetic condition that frequently results in spinal sagittal plane deformity of thoracolumbar or cervicothoracic junctions. Generally, a combination of osteotomy and spinal fixation is used to treat severe cases. Although surgical techniques for traumatic injury across the cervicothoracic junction have been well characterized in clinical and biomechanical literature, the specific model of instrumented opening wedge osteotomy in autofused AS has not been studied biomechanically. This study characterizes the structural stability of various posterior fixation techniques across the cervicothoracic junction in spines with AS, specifically considering the effects of posterior rod diameter and material type.

Methods

For each of 10 fresh-frozen human spines (3 male, 7 female; mean age 60 ± 10 years; C3–T6), an opening wedge osteotomy was performed at C7–T1. Lateral mass screws were inserted bilaterally from C-4 to C-6 and pedicle screws from T-1 to T-3. For each specimen, 3.2-mm titanium (Ti), 3.5-mm Ti, and 3.5-mm cobalt chromium (CoCr) posterior spinal fusion rods were tested. To simulate the anterior autofusion and long lever arms characteristic of AS, anterior cervical plates were placed from C-4 to C-7 and T-1 to T-3 using fixed angle screws. Nondestructive flexion-extension, lateral bending, and axial rotation tests were conducted to 3.0 Nm in each anatomical direction; 3D motion tracking was used to monitor primary range of motion across the osteotomy (C7–T1). Biomechanical tests used a repeat-measures test design. The order of testing for each rod type was randomized across specimens.

Results

Constructs instrumented with 3.5-mm Ti and 3.5-mm CoCr rods were significantly stiffer in flexion-extension than those with the 3.2-mm Ti rod (25.2% ± 16.4% and 48.1% ± 15.3% greater than 3.2-mm Ti, respectively, p < 0.05). For axial rotation, the 3.5-mm Ti and 3.5-mm CoCr constructs also exhibited a significant increase in rigidity compared with the 3.2-mm Ti construct (36.1% ± 12.2% and 52.0% ± 20.0%, respectively, p < 0.05). There were no significant differences in rigidity seen between the 3 types of rods in lateral bending (p > 0.05). The 3.5-mm CoCr rod constructs showed significantly higher rigidity in flexion-extension than the 3.5-mm Ti rod constructs (33.1% ± 15.5%, p < 0.05). There was a trend for 3.5-mm CoCr to have greater rigidity in axial rotation (36.2% ± 18.6%), but this difference was not statistically significant (p > 0.05).

Conclusions

The results of this study suggest that 3.5-mm CoCr rods are optimal for achieving the most rigid construct in opening wedge osteotomy in the cervicothoracic region of an AS model. Rod diameter and material properties should be considered in construct strategy. Some surgeons have advocated anterior plating in patients with AS after osteotomy for additional stability and bone graft surface. Although this effect was not examined in this study, additional posterior stability achieved with CoCr may decrease the need for additional anterior procedures.

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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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Taemin Oh, Justin K. Scheer, Robert Eastlack, Justin S. Smith, Virginie Lafage, Themistocles S. Protopsaltis, Eric Klineberg, Peter G. Passias, Vedat Deviren, Richard Hostin, Munish Gupta, Shay Bess, Frank Schwab, Christopher I. Shaffrey and Christopher P. Ames

OBJECT

Alignment changes in the cervical spine that occur following surgical correction for thoracic deformity remain poorly understood. The purpose of this study was to evaluate such changes in a cohort of adults with thoracic deformity treated surgically.

METHODS

The authors conducted a multicenter retrospective analysis of consecutive patients with thoracic deformity. Inclusion criteria for this study were as follows: corrective osteotomy for thoracic deformity, upper-most instrumented vertebra (UIV) between T-1 and T-4, lower-most instrumented vertebra (LIV) at or above L-5 (LIV ≥ L-5) or at the ilium (LIV-ilium), and a minimum radiographic follow-up of 2 years. Sagittal radiographic parameters were assessed preoperatively as well as at 3 months and 2 years postoperatively, including the C-7 sagittal vertical axis (SVA), C2–7 cervical lordosis (CL), C2–7 SVA, T-1 slope (T1S), T1S minus CL (T1S-CL), T2–12 thoracic kyphosis (TK), apical TK, lumbar lordosis (LL), pelvic incidence (PI), PI-LL, pelvic tilt (PT), and sacral slope (SS).

RESULTS

Fifty-seven patients with a mean age of 49.1 ± 14.6 years met the study inclusion criteria. The preoperative prevalence of increased CL (CL > 15°) was 48.9%. Both 3-month and 2-year apical TK improved from baseline (p < 0.05, statistically significant). At the 2-year follow-up, only the C2–7 SVA increased significantly from baseline (p = 0.01), whereas LL decreased from baseline (p < 0.01). The prevalence of increased CL was 35.3% at 3 months and 47.8% at 2 years, which did not represent a significant change. Postoperative cervical alignment changes were not significantly different from preoperative values regardless of the LIV (LIV ≥ L-5 or LIV-ilium, p > 0.05 for both). In a subset of patients with a maximum TK ≥ 60° (35 patients) and 3-column osteotomy (38 patients), no significant postoperative cervical changes were seen.

CONCLUSION

Increased CL is common in adult spinal deformity patients with thoracic deformities and, unlike after lumbar corrective surgery, does not appear to normalize after thoracic corrective surgery. Cervical sagittal malalignment (C2–7 SVA) also increases postoperatively. Surgeons should be aware that spontaneous cervical alignment normalization might not occur following thoracic deformity correction.