Total uncinate process resection or uncinectomy is often required in the setting of severe foraminal stenosis or cervical kyphosis correction. The proximity of the uncus to the vertebral artery, nerve root, and spinal cord makes this a challenging undertaking. Use of a high-speed burr or ultrasonic bone dissector can be associated with direct injury to the vertebral artery and thermal injury to the surrounding structures. The use of an osteotome is a safe and efficient method of uncinectomy. Here the authors describe their technique, which is illustrated with an intraoperative video.
Anand H. Segar, Alexander Riccio, Michael Smith and Themistocles S. Protopsaltis
William Clifton and Mark Pichelmann
Max Vaynrub, Brandon P. Hirsch, Jared Tishelman, Dennis Vasquez-Montes, Aaron J. Buckland, Thomas J. Errico and Themistocles S. Protopsaltis
Verifying the adequacy of surgical correction of adult spinal sagittal deformity (SSD) leads to improved postoperative alignment and clinical outcomes. Traditionally, surgeons relied on intraoperative measurements of lumbar lordosis (LL) correction. However, T-1 pelvic angle (TPA) and its component angles more reliably predict postoperative alignment. While TPA is readily measured on standing radiographs, intraoperative radiographs offer poor resolution of the bicoxofemoral axis. A method to recreate this radiographic landmark by extrapolating preoperative measurements has been described. The authors aimed to assess the reliability of measurements of global spinal alignment obtained via geometrical reconstitution of the bicoxofemoral axis on prone intraoperative radiographs.
A retrospective review was performed. Twenty sets of preoperative standing full-length and intraoperative prone 36-inch lateral radiographs were analyzed. Pelvic incidence (PI) and sacral to bicoxofemoral axis distance (SBFD) were recorded on preoperative films. A perpendicular line was drawn on the intraoperative radiograph from the midpoint of the sacral endplate. This was used as one limb of the PI, and the second limb was digitally drawn at an angle that reproduced the preoperatively obtained PI, extending for a distance that matched the preoperative SBFD. This final point marked the obscured bicoxofemoral axis. These landmarks were used to measure the L-1, T-9, T-4, and T-1 pelvic angles (LPA, T9PA, T4PA, and TPA, respectively) and LL. Two spine fellows and 2 attending spine surgeons made independent measurements and repeated the process in 1 month. Mixed-model 2-way intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) and Cronbach’s α values were calculated to assess interobserver, intraobserver, and scale reliability.
Interobserver reliability was excellent for preoperative PI and intraoperative LPA, T9PA, and T4PA (ICC = 0.88, 0.84, 0.84, and 0.93, respectively), good for intraoperative TPA (ICC = 0.68), and fair for preoperative SBFD (ICC = 0.60) and intraoperative LL (ICC = 0.50). Cronbach’s α was ≥ 0.80 for all measurements. Measuring PI on preoperative standing images had excellent intraobserver reliability for all raters (ICC = 0.89, range 0.80–0.93). All raters but one showed excellent reliability for measuring the SBFD. Reliability for measuring prone LL was good for all raters (ICC = 0.71, range 0.64–0.76). The LPA demonstrated good to excellent reliability for each rater (ICC = 0.76, range 0.65–0.81). The thoracic pelvic angles tended to be more reliable at more distal vertebrae (T9PA ICC = 0.71, range 0.49–0.81; T4PA ICC = 0.62, range 0.43–0.83; TPA ICC = 0.56, range 0.31–0.86).
Intraoperative assessment of global spinal alignment with TPA and component angles is more reliable than intraoperative measurements of LL. Reconstruction of preoperatively measured PI and SBFD on intraoperative radiographs effectively overcomes poor visualization of the bicoxofemoral axis. This method is easily adopted and produces accurate and reliable prone intraoperative measures of global spinal alignment.
M. Burhan Janjua, Jared C. Tishelman, Dennis Vasquez-Montes, Max Vaynrub, Thomas J. Errico, Aaron J. Buckland and Themistocles Protopsaltis
Sitting radiographs are a valuable tool to consider the thoracic compensatory mechanism in patients who are candidates for thoracolumbar correction surgery.
Jared C. Tishelman, Dennis Vasquez-Montes, David S. Jevotovsky, Nicholas Stekas, Michael J. Moses, Raj J. Karia, Thomas Errico, Aaron J. Buckland and Themistocles S. Protopsaltis
The Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) has become increasingly popular due to computer adaptive testing methodology. This study aims to validate the association between PROMIS and legacy outcome metrics and compare PROMIS to legacy metrics in terms of ceiling and floor effects and questionnaire burden.
A retrospective review of an outcomes database was performed at a single institution from December 2016 to April 2017. Inclusion criteria were age > 18 years and a chief complaint of back pain or neck pain. The PROMIS computer adaptive testing Pain Interference, Physical Function (PF), and Pain Intensity domains; Oswestry Disability Index (ODI); Neck Disability Index (NDI); and visual analog scale (VAS) back, VAS leg, VAS neck, and VAS arm were completed in random order. PROMIS was compared to legacy metrics in terms of the average number of questions needed to complete each questionnaire and the score distributions in the lower and higher bounds of scores.
A total of 494 patients with back pain and 130 patients with neck pain were included. For back pain, ODI showed a strong correlation with PROMIS-PF (R = −0.749, p < 0.001), Pain Intensity (R = 0.709, p < 0.001), and Pain Interference (R = 0.790, p < 0.001) domains. Additionally, the PROMIS Pain Intensity domain correlated to both VAS back and neck pain (R = 0.642, p < 0.001 for both). PROMIS-PF took significantly fewer questions to complete compared to the ODI (4.123 vs 9.906, p < 0.001). When assessing for instrument sensitivity, neither survey presented a significant ceiling and floor effect in the back pain population (ODI: 0.40% and 2.63%; PROMIS-PF: 0.60% and 1.41%). In the neck pain cohort, NDI showed a strong correlation with PROMIS-PF (R = 0.771, p < 0.001). Additionally, PROMIS Pain Intensity correlated to VAS neck (R = 0.642, p < 0.001). The mean number of questions required to complete the questionnaire was much lower for PROMIS-PF compared to NDI (4.417 vs 10, p < 0.001). There were no significant differences found in terms of ceiling and floor effects for neck complaints (NDI: 2.3% and 6.92%; PROMIS-PF: 0.00% and 5.38%) or back complaints (ODI: 0.40% and 2.63%; PROMIS-PF: 1.41% and 0.60%).
PROMIS correlates strongly with traditional disability measures in patients with back pain and neck pain. For both back and neck pain, the PROMIS-PF required patients to answer significantly fewer questions to achieve similar granularity. There were no significant differences in ceiling and floor effects for NDI or ODI when compared with the PROMIS-PF instrument.
Emmanuelle Ferrero, Barthelemy Liabaud, Vincent Challier, Renaud Lafage, Bassel G. Diebo, Shaleen Vira, Shian Liu, Jean Marc Vital, Brice Ilharreborde, Themistocles S. Protopsaltis, Thomas J. Errico, Frank J. Schwab and Virginie Lafage
Previous forceplate studies analyzing the impact of sagittal-plane spinal deformity on pelvic parameters have demonstrated the compensatory mechanisms of pelvis translation in addition to rotation. However, the mechanisms recruited for this pelvic rotation were not assessed. This study aims to analyze the relationship between spinopelvic and lower-extremity parameters and clarify the role of pelvic translation.
This is a retrospective study of patients with spinal deformity and full-body EOS images. Patients with only stenosis or low-back pain were excluded. Patients were grouped according to T-1 spinopelvic inclination (T1SPi): sagittal forward (forward, > 0.5°), neutral (−6.3° to 0.5°), or backward (< −6.3°). Pelvic translation was quantified by pelvic shift (sagittal offset between the posterosuperior corner of the sacrum and anterior cortex of the distal tibia), hip extension was measured using the sacrofemoral angle (SFA; the angle formed by the middle of the sacral endplate and the bicoxofemoral axis and the line between the bicoxofemoral axis and the femoral axis), and chin-brow vertical angle (CBVA). Univariate and multivariate analyses were used to compare the parameters and correlation with the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI).
In total, 336 patients (71% female; mean age 57 years; mean body mass index 27 kg/m2) had mean T1SPi values of −8.8°, −3.5°, and 5.9° in the backward, neutral, and forward groups, respectively. There were significant differences in the lower-extremity and spinopelvic parameters between T1SPi groups. The backward group had a normal lumbar lordosis (LL), negative SVA and pelvic shift, and the largest hip extension. Forward patients had a small LL and an increased SVA, with a large pelvic shift creating compensatory knee flexion. Significant correlations existed between lower-limb parameter and pelvic shift, pelvic tilt, T-1 pelvic angle, T1SPi, and sagittal vertical axis (0.3 < r < 0.8; p < 0.001). ODI was significantly correlated with knee flexion and pelvic shift.
This is the first study to describe full-body alignment in a large population of patients with spinal pathologies. Furthermore, patients categorized based on T1SPi were found to have significant differences in the pelvic shift and lower-limb compensatory mechanisms. Correlations between lower-limb angles, pelvic shift, and ODI were identified. These differences in compensatory mechanisms should be considered when evaluating and planning surgical intervention for adult patients with spinal deformity.
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.
Kseniya Slobodyanyuk, Caroline E. Poorman, Justin S. Smith, Themistocles S. Protopsaltis, Richard Hostin, Shay Bess, Gregory M. Mundis Jr., Frank J. Schwab and Virginie Lafage
The goal of this study was to determine the outcome and risk factors in patients with adult spinal deformity (ASD) who elected to receive nonoperative care.
In this retrospective study the authors reviewed a nonoperative branch of the International Spine Study Group database, derived from 10 sites across the US. Specific inclusion criteria included nonoperative treatment for ASD and the availability of Scoliosis Research Society (SRS)-22 scores and radiographic data at baseline (BL) and at 1-year (1Y) follow-up. Health-related quality of life measures were assessed using the SRS-22 and radiographic data. Changes in SRS-22 scores were evaluated by domain and expressed in number of minimum clinically important differences (MCIDs) gained or lost; BL and 1Y scores were also compared with age- and sex-matched normative references.
One hundred eighty-nine patients (mean age 53 years, 86% female) met inclusion criteria. Pain was the domain with the largest offset for 43% of patients, followed by the Appearance (23%), Activity (18%), and Mental (15%) domains. On average, patients improved 0.3 MCID in Pain over 1Y, without changes in Activity or Appearance. Baseline scores significantly impacted 1Y outcomes, with up to 85% of patients in the mildest category of deformity being classified as < 1 MCID of normative reference at 1Y, versus 0% of patients with the most severe initial deformity. Baseline radiographic parameters did not correlate with outcome.
Patients who received nonoperative care are significantly more disabled than age- and sex-matched normative references. The likelihood for a patient to reach SRS scores similar to the normative reference at 1Y decreases with increased BL disability. Nonoperative treatment is a viable option for certain patients with ASD, and up to 24% of patients demonstrated significant improvement over 1Y with nonoperative care.
Paraspinal muscle size as an independent risk factor for proximal junctional kyphosis in patients undergoing thoracolumbar fusion
Presented at the 2019 AANS/CNS Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves
Zach Pennington, Ethan Cottrill, A. Karim Ahmed, Peter Passias, Themistocles Protopsaltis, Brian Neuman, Khaled M. Kebaish, Jeff Ehresman, Erick M. Westbroek, Matthew L. Goodwin and Daniel M. Sciubba
Proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK) is a structural complication of spinal fusion in 5%–61% of patients treated for adult spinal deformity. In nearly one-third of these cases, PJK is progressive and requires costly surgical revision. Previous studies have suggested that patient body habitus may predict risk for PJK. Here, the authors sought to investigate abdominal girth and paraspinal muscle size as risk factors for PJK.
All patients undergoing thoracolumbosacral fusion greater than 2 levels at a single institution over a 5-year period with ≥ 6 months of radiographic follow-up were considered for inclusion. PJK was defined as kyphosis ≥ 20° between the upper instrumented vertebra (UIV) and two supra-adjacent vertebrae. Operative and radiographic parameters were recorded, including pre- and postoperative sagittal vertical axis (SVA), sacral slope (SS), lumbar lordosis (LL), pelvic tilt, pelvic incidence (PI), and absolute value of the pelvic incidence–lumbar lordosis mismatch (|PI-LL|), as well as changes in LL, |PI-LL|, and SVA. The authors also considered relative abdominal girth and the size of the paraspinal muscles at the UIV.
One hundred sixty-nine patients met inclusion criteria. On univariate analysis, PJK was associated with a larger preoperative SVA (p < 0.001) and |PI-LL| (p = 0.01), and smaller SS (p = 0.004) and LL (p = 0.001). PJK was also associated with more positive postoperative SVA (p = 0.01), ΔSVA (p = 0.01), Δ|PI-LL| (p < 0.001), and ΔLL (p < 0.001); longer construct length (p = 0.005); larger abdominal girth–to-muscle ratio (p = 0.007); and smaller paraspinal muscles at the UIV (p < 0.001). Higher postoperative SVA (OR 1.1 per cm), smaller paraspinal muscles at the UIV (OR 2.11), and more aggressive reduction in |PI-LL| (OR 1.03) were independent predictors of radiographic PJK on multivariate logistic regression.
A more positive postoperative global sagittal alignment and smaller paraspinal musculature at the UIV most strongly predicted PJK following thoracolumbosacral fusion.
Han Jo Kim, Sohrab Virk, Jonathan Elysee, Peter Passias, Christopher Ames, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Gregory Mundis Jr., Themistocles Protopsaltis, Munish Gupta, Eric Klineberg, Justin S. Smith, Douglas Burton, Frank Schwab, Virginie Lafage, Renaud Lafage and the International Spine Study Group
Cervical deformity (CD) is difficult to define due to the high variability in normal cervical alignment based on postural- and thoracolumbar-driven changes to cervical alignment. The purpose of this study was to identify whether patterns of sagittal deformity could be established based on neutral and dynamic alignment, as shown on radiographs.
This study is a retrospective review of a prospective, multicenter database of CD patients who underwent surgery from 2013 to 2015. Their radiographs were reviewed by 12 individuals using a consensus-based method to identify severe sagittal CD. Radiographic parameters correlating with health-related quality of life were introduced in a two-step cluster analysis (a combination of hierarchical cluster and k-means cluster) to identify patterns of sagittal deformity. A comparison of lateral and lateral extension radiographs between clusters was performed using an ANOVA in a post hoc analysis.
Overall, 75 patients were identified as having severe CD due to sagittal malalignment, and they formed the basis of this study. Their mean age was 64 years, their body mass index was 29 kg/m2, and 66% were female. There were significant correlations between focal alignment/flexibility of maximum kyphosis, cervical lordosis, and thoracic slope minus cervical lordosis (TS-CL) flexibility (r = 0.27, 0.31, and −0.36, respectively). Cluster analysis revealed 3 distinct groups based on alignment and flexibility. Group 1 (a pattern involving a flat neck with lack of compensation) had a large TS-CL mismatch despite flexibility in cervical lordosis; group 2 (a pattern involving focal deformity) had focal kyphosis between 2 adjacent levels but no large regional cervical kyphosis under the setting of a low T1 slope (T1S); and group 3 (a pattern involving a cervicothoracic deformity) had a very large T1S with a compensatory hyperlordosis of the cervical spine.
Three distinct patterns of CD were identified in this cohort: flat neck, focal deformity, and cervicothoracic deformity. One key element to understanding the difference between these groups was the alignment seen on extension radiographs. This information is a first step in developing a classification system that can guide the surgical treatment for CD and the choice of fusion level.