Appreciation of the optimal management of skeletally mature patients with spinal deformities requires understanding of the natural history of the disease relative to expected outcomes of surgical intervention. Appropriate outcome measures are necessary to define the surgical treatment. Unfortunately, the literature lacks prospective randomized data. The majority of published series report outcomes of a particular surgical approach, procedure, or surgeon. The purpose of the current study was to systematically review the present spine deformity literature and assess the available data on clinical and radiographic outcome measurements.
A systematic review of MEDLINE and PubMed databases was performed to identify articles published from 1950 to the present using the following key words: “adult scoliosis surgery,” “adult spine deformity surgery,” “outcomes,” and “complications.” Exclusion criteria included follow-up shorter than 2 years and mean patient age younger than 18 years. Data on major curve (coronal scoliosis or lumbar lordosis Cobb angle as reported), major curve correction, Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) scores, Scoliosis Research Society (SRS) instrument scores, complications, and pseudarthroses were recorded.
Forty-nine articles were obtained and included in this review; 3299 patient data points were analyzed. The mean age was 47.7 years, and the mean follow-up period was 3.6 years. The average major curve correction was 26.6° (for 2188 patients); for 2129 patients, it was possible to calculate average curve reduction as a percentage (40.7%). The mean total ODI was 41.2 (for 1289 patients), and the mean postoperative reduction in ODI was 15.7 (for 911 patients). The mean SRS-30 equivalent score was 97.1 (for 1700 patients) with a mean postoperative decrease of 23.1 (for 999 patients). There were 897 reported complications for 2175 patients (41.2%) and 319 pseudarthroses for 2469 patients (12.9%).
Surgery for adult scoliosis is associated with improvement in radiographic and clinical outcomes at a minimum 2-year follow-up. Perioperative morbidity includes an approximately 13% risk of pseudarthrosis and a greater than 40% incidence of perioperative adverse events. Incidence of perioperative complications is substantial and must be considered when deciding optimal disease management. Although the quality of published studies in this area has improved, particularly in the last few years, the current review highlights the lack of routine use of standardized outcomes measures and assessment in the adult scoliosis literature.