The correction of severe cervicothoracic sagittal deformities can be very challenging and can be associated with significant morbidity. Often, soft-tissue releases and osteotomies are warranted to achieve the desired correction. There is a paucity of studies that examine the difference in morbidity and complication profiles for Smith-Petersen osteotomy (SPO) versus 3-column osteotomy (3CO) for cervical deformity correction.
A retrospective comparison of complication profiles between posterior-based SPO (Ames grade 2 SPO) and 3CO (Ames grade 5 opening wedge osteotomy and Ames grade 6 closing wedge osteotomy) was performed by examining a single-surgeon experience from 2011 to 2018. Patients of interest were individuals who had a cervical sagittal vertical axis (cSVA) > 4 cm and/or cervical kyphosis > 20° and who underwent corrective surgery for cervical deformity. Multivariate analysis was utilized.
A total of 95 patients were included: 49 who underwent 3CO and 46 who underwent SPO. Twelve of the SPO patients underwent an anterior release procedure. The patients’ mean age was 63.2 years, and 60.0% of the patients were female. All preoperative radiographic parameters showed significant correction postoperatively: cSVA (6.2 cm vs 4.5 cm [preoperative vs postoperative values], p < 0.001), cervical lordosis (6.8° [kyphosis] vs −7.5°, p < 0.001), and T1 slope (40.9° and 35.2°, p = 0.026). The overall complication rate was 37.9%, and postoperative neurological deficits were seen in 16.8% of patients. The surgical and medical complication rates were 17.9% and 23.2%, respectively. Overall, complication rates were higher in patients who underwent 3CO compared to those who underwent SPO, but this was not statistically significant (total complication rate 42.9% vs 32.6%, p = 0.304; surgical complication rate 18.4% vs 10.9%, p = 0.303; and new neurological deficit rate 20.4% vs 13.0%, p = 0.338). Medical complication rates were similar between the two groups (22.4% [3CO] vs 23.9% [SPO], p = 0.866). Independent risk factors for surgical complications included male sex (OR 10.88, p = 0.014), cSVA > 8 cm (OR 10.36, p = 0.037), and kyphosis > 20° (OR 9.48, p = 0.005). Combined anterior-posterior surgery was independently associated with higher odds of medical complications (OR 10.30, p = 0.011), and preoperative kyphosis > 20° was an independent risk factor for neurological deficits (OR 2.08, p = 0.011).
There was no significant difference in complication rates between 3CO and SPO for cervicothoracic deformity correction, but absolute surgical and neurological complication rates for 3CO were higher. A preoperative cSVA > 8 cm was a risk factor for surgical complications, and kyphosis > 20° was a risk factor for both surgical and neurological complications. Additional studies are warranted on this topic.