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Darryl Lau, Vedat Deviren, Rushikesh S. Joshi and Christopher P. Ames


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.