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Susan Núñez-Pereira, Wolfgang Hitzl, Viola Bullmann, Oliver Meier, and Heiko Koller

OBJECT

Sagittal malalignment of the cervical spine has been associated with worsened postsurgical outcomes. For better operative planning of fusion and alignment restoration, improved knowledge of ideal fusion angles and interdependences between upper and lower cervical spine alignment is needed. Because spinal and spinopelvic parameters might play a role in cervical sagittal alignment, their associations should be studied in depth.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively analyzed digital lateral standing cervical radiographs of 145 patients (34 asymptomatic, 74 symptomatic; 37 surgically treated), including full-standing radiographs obtained in 45 of these patients. Sagittal measurements were as follows: C2–7, occiput (Oc)–C2, C1–2 Cobb angles, and C-7 slope (the angle between the horizontal line and the superior endplate of C-7), as well as T4–12 and L1–S1 Cobb angles, sacral slope, pelvic incidence, and C-7 sagittal vertical axis (SVA). A correlation analysis was performed, and linear regression models were developed.

RESULTS

Statistical analyses revealed significant correlations between C2–7 and Oc–C2 (r = −0.4, p < 0.01), Oc–C2 (r = −0.3, p < 0.01), and C1–2 angle (r = −0.3, p < 0.01). C-7 slope was significantly correlated with C2–7 (r = −0.5, p < 0.01) and with Oc–C2 angle (r = 0.2, p = 0.02). Total cervical (Oc–C7) lordosis was 30.2° and did not differ significantly among asymptomatic, symptomatic, and surgically treated patients. Correlations between C2–7 and Oc–C2 alignment were stronger in asymptomatic patients (r = –0.5, p < 0.01) and surgically treated patients (r = –0.5, p < 0.01) than in symptomatic patients (r = –0.3, p = 0.01), but the between-group difference was not significant (p > 0.1). Comparing cervical and spinopelvic alignment revealed a significant correlation between sacral slope and C-7 slope (r = –0.3, p = 0.04) and C2–7 (r = 0.4, p < 0.01). The C-7 SVA correlated significantly with the C-7 slope (r = –0.4, p < 0.01). The interdependences were stronger within the occipitocervical parameters than between the cervical and remaining spinal parameters.

CONCLUSIONS

Significant correlations between the upper and lower cervical spine exist, confirming the existence of inherent compensatory mechanisms to maintain overall balance; no significant differences were found among asymptomatic, symptomatic, and surgically treated patients. The C-7 slope is a useful marker of overall sagittal alignment, acting as a link between the occipitocervical and thoracolumbar spine.

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Martine W. T. van Bilsen, Christopher Ullrich, Luis Ferraris, Axel Hempfing, Wolfgang Hitzl, Michael Mayer, and Heiko Koller

OBJECTIVE

Computed tomography (CT) scans are accepted as the imaging standard of reference to define union after anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF). However, ideal CT criteria to diagnose union have not been identified or validated. The objective of this study was to analyze the diagnostic value of 9 CT-based criteria and identify the ideal criteria among them to assess cervical fusion after ACDF using surgical exploration as the standard of reference.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective radiographic study of a single surgeon’s prospective assessment of osseous fusion during cervical revision surgery by analyzing complete radiographic data in 44 patients who underwent anterior cervical revision surgery due to symptomatic suspected nonunion or adjacent level disease. All patients received standard preoperative CT scans, which were assessed by an independent radiologist to evaluate 9 diagnostic criteria for osseous union. During revision surgery, scar tissue was removed and manual segmental translation tests were performed. Nonunion was defined by visualized motion at the treated ACDF level.

RESULTS

In total, 44 patients were included in the study (30 men; patient age 54 ± 6 years, BMI 28 ± 5 kg/m2). For analysis of fusion, 75 cervical levels were explored, of which 61 levels (81%) showed intraoperative movement indicating nonunion. Statistical analysis showed that of the 9 parameters used to diagnose bone union, “bridging bone on ≥ 3 CT slices” yielded the highest sensitivity (100%) and specificity (58%). Multivariate analysis revealed that prediction accuracy was not increased if several criteria were combined to determine fusion.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors found that the best indicator of bone union was the item bridging bone on ≥ 3 CT slices. Combining the scoring of more than one criterion did not increase the diagnostic accuracy.

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Heiko Koller, Alexandre Ansorge, Isabel C. Hostettler, Juliane Koller, Wolfgang Hitzl, Axel Hempfing, and Dezsoe Jeszenszky

OBJECTIVE

Three-column osteotomy (3CO) is used for severe spinal deformities. Associated complications include sagittal translation (ST), which can lead to neurological symptoms. Mismatch between the surgical center of rotation (COR) and the concept of the ideal COR is a potential cause of ST. Matching surgical with conceptual COR is difficult with pedicle subtraction osteotomy (PSO) and vertebral column resection (VCR). This mismatch influences correction geometry, which can prevent maximum possible correction. The authors’ objective was to examine the sagittal correction geometry and surgical COR of thoracic and lumbar 3CO.

METHODS

In a retrospective study of patients with PSO or VCR for severe sagittal plane deformity, analysis of surgical COR was performed using pre- and postoperative CT scans in the PSO group and digital radiographs in the VCR group. Radiographic analysis included standard deformity measurements and regional kyphosis angle (RKA). All patients had 2-year follow-up, including neurological outcome. Preoperative CT scans were studied for rigid osteotomy sites versus mobile osteotomy sites. Additional radiographic analysis of surgical COR was based on established techniques superimposing pre- and postoperative images. Position of the COR was defined in a rectangular net layered onto the osteotomy vertebrae (OVs).

RESULTS

The study included 34 patients undergoing PSO and 35 undergoing VCR, with mean ages of 57 and 29 years and mean RKA corrections of 31° and 49°, respectively. In the PSO group, COR was mainly in the anterior column, and surgical and conceptual COR matched in 22 patients (65%). Smaller RKA correction (27° vs 32°, p = 0.09) was seen in patients with anterior eccentric COR. Patients with rigid osteotomy sites were more likely to have an anterior eccentric COR (41% vs 11%, p = 0.05). In the VCR group, 20 patients (57%) had single-level VCR and 15 (43%) had multilevel VCR. COR was mainly located in the anterior or middle column. Mismatch between surgical and conceptual COR occurred in 24 (69%) patients. Larger RKA correction (63° vs 45°, p = 0.03) was seen in patients with anterior column COR. Patients with any posterior COR had a smaller RKA correction compared to the rest of the patients (42° vs 61°, p = 0.007).

CONCLUSIONS

Matching the surgical with the conceptual COR is difficult and in this study failed in one- to two-thirds of all patients. In order to avoid ST during correction of severe deformities, temporary rods, tracking rods, or special instruments should be used for correction maneuvers.

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Heiko Koller, Michael Mayer, Juliane Zenner, Herbert Resch, Alfred Niederberger, Johann Fierlbeck, Wolfgang Hitzl, and Frank L. Acosta Jr.

Object

In thoracolumbar deformity surgery, anterior-only approaches are used for reconstruction of anterior column failures. It is generally advised that vertebral body replacements (VBRs) should be preloaded by compression. However, little is known regarding the impact of different techniques for generation of preloads and which surgical principle is best for restoration of lordosis. Therefore, the authors analyzed the effect of different surgical techniques to restore spinal alignment and lordosis as well as the ability to generate axial preloads on VBRs in anterior column reconstructions.

Methods

The authors performed a laboratory study using 7 fresh-frozen specimens (from T-3 to S-1) to assess the ability for lordosis reconstruction of 5 techniques and their potential for increasing preloads on a modified distractable VBR in a 1-level thoracolumbar corpectomy. The testing protocol was as follows: 1) Radiographs of specimens were obtained. 2) A 1-level corpectomy was performed. 3) In alternating order, lordosis was applied using 1 of the 5 techniques. Then, preloads during insertion and after relaxation using the modified distractable VBR were assessed using a miniature load-cell incorporated in the modified distractable VBR. The modified distractable VBR was inserted into the corpectomy defect after lordosis was applied using 1) a lamina spreader; 2) the modified distractable VBR only; 3) the ArcoFix System (an angular stable plate system enabling in situ reduction); 4) a lordosizer (a customized instrument enabling reduction while replicating the intervertebral center of rotation [COR] according to the COR method); and 5) a lordosizer and top-loading screws ([LZ+TLS], distraction with the lordosizer applied on a 5.5-mm rod linked to 2 top-loading pedicle screws inserted laterally into the vertebra). Changes in the regional kyphosis angle were assessed radiographically using the Cobb method.

Results

The bone mineral density of specimens was 0.72 ± 22.6 g/cm2. The maximum regional kyphosis angle reconstructed among the 5 techniques averaged 9.7°−16.1°, and maximum axial preloads averaged 123.7–179.7 N. Concerning correction, in decreasing order the LZ+TLS, lordosizer, and ArcoFix System outperformed the lamina spreader and modified distractable VBR. The order of median values for insertion peak load, from highest to lowest, were lordosizer, LZ+TLS, and ArcoFix, which outperformed the lamina spreader and modified distractable VBR. In decreasing order, the axial preload was highest with the lordosizer and LZ+TLS, which both outperformed the lamina spreader and the modified distractable VBR. The technique enabling the greatest lordosis achieved the highest preloads. With the ArcoFix System and LZ+TLS, compression loads could be applied and were 247.8 and 190.6 N, respectively, which is significantly higher than the insertion peak load and axial preload (p < 0.05).

Conclusions

Including the ability for replication of the COR in instruments designed for anterior column reconstructions, the ability for lordosis restoration of the anterior column and axial preloads can increase, which in turn might foster fusion.

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Heiko Koller, Meric Enercan, Sebastian Decker, Hossein Mehdian, Luigi Aurelio Nasto, Wolfgang Hitzl, Juliane Koller, Axel Hempfing, and Azmi Hamzaoglu

OBJECTIVE

In double and triple major adolescent idiopathic scoliosis curves it is still controversial whether the lowest instrumented vertebra (LIV) should be L3 or L4. Too short a fusion can impede postoperative distal curve compensation and promote adding on (AON). Longer fusions lower the chance of compensation by alignment changes of the lumbosacral curve (LSC). This study sought to improve prediction accuracy for AON and surgical outcomes in Lenke type 3, 4, and 6 curves.

METHODS

This was a retrospective multicenter analysis of patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis who had Lenke 3, 4, and 6 curves and ≥ 1 year of follow-up after posterior correction. Resolution of the LSC was studied by changes of LIV tilt, L3 tilt, and L4 tilt, with the variables resembling surrogate measures for the LSC. AON was defined as a disc angle below LIV > 5° at follow-up. A matched-pairs analysis was done of differences between LIV at L3 and at L4. A multivariate prediction analysis evaluated the AON risk in patients with LIV at L3. Clinical outcomes were assessed by the Scoliosis Research Society 22-item questionnaire (SRS-22).

RESULTS

The sample comprised 101 patients (average age 16 years). The LIV was L3 in 54%, and it was L4 in 39%. At follow-up, 87% of patients showed shoulder balance, 86% had trunk balance, and 64% had a lumbar curve (LC) ≤ 20°. With an LC ≤ 20° (p = 0.01), SRS-22 scores were better and AON was less common (26% vs 59%, p = 0.001). Distal extension of the fusion (e.g., LIV at L4) did not have a significant influence on achieving an LSC < 20°; however, higher screw density allowed better LC correction and resulted in better spontaneous LSC correction.

AON occurred in 34% of patients, or 40% if the LIV was L3. Patients with AON had a larger residual LSC, worse LC correction, and worse thoracic curve (TC) correction. A total of 44 patients could be included in the matched-pairs analysis. LC correction and TC correction were comparable, but AON was 50% for LIV at L3 and 18% for LIV at L4. Patients without AON had a significantly better LC correction and TC correction (p < 0.01). For patients with LIV at L3, a significant prediction model for AON was established including variables addressed by surgeons: postoperative LC and TC (negative predictive value 78%, positive predictive value 79%, sensitivity 79%, specificity 81%).

CONCLUSIONS

An analysis of 101 patients with Lenke 3, 4, and 6 curves showed that TC and LC correction had significant influence on LSC resolution and the risk for AON. Improving LC correction and achieving an LC < 20° offers the potential to lower the risk for AON, particularly in patients with LIV at L3.

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Heiko Koller, Meric Enercan, Sebastian Decker, Hossein Mehdian, Luigi Aurelio Nasto, Wolfgang Hitzl, Juliane Koller, Axel Hempfing, and Azmi Hamzaoglu

OBJECTIVE

In double and triple major adolescent idiopathic scoliosis curves it is still controversial whether the lowest instrumented vertebra (LIV) should be L3 or L4. Too short a fusion can impede postoperative distal curve compensation and promote adding on (AON). Longer fusions lower the chance of compensation by alignment changes of the lumbosacral curve (LSC). This study sought to improve prediction accuracy for AON and surgical outcomes in Lenke type 3, 4, and 6 curves.

METHODS

This was a retrospective multicenter analysis of patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis who had Lenke 3, 4, and 6 curves and ≥ 1 year of follow-up after posterior correction. Resolution of the LSC was studied by changes of LIV tilt, L3 tilt, and L4 tilt, with the variables resembling surrogate measures for the LSC. AON was defined as a disc angle below LIV > 5° at follow-up. A matched-pairs analysis was done of differences between LIV at L3 and at L4. A multivariate prediction analysis evaluated the AON risk in patients with LIV at L3. Clinical outcomes were assessed by the Scoliosis Research Society 22-item questionnaire (SRS-22).

RESULTS

The sample comprised 101 patients (average age 16 years). The LIV was L3 in 54%, and it was L4 in 39%. At follow-up, 87% of patients showed shoulder balance, 86% had trunk balance, and 64% had a lumbar curve (LC) ≤ 20°. With an LC ≤ 20° (p = 0.01), SRS-22 scores were better and AON was less common (26% vs 59%, p = 0.001). Distal extension of the fusion (e.g., LIV at L4) did not have a significant influence on achieving an LSC < 20°; however, higher screw density allowed better LC correction and resulted in better spontaneous LSC correction.

AON occurred in 34% of patients, or 40% if the LIV was L3. Patients with AON had a larger residual LSC, worse LC correction, and worse thoracic curve (TC) correction. A total of 44 patients could be included in the matched-pairs analysis. LC correction and TC correction were comparable, but AON was 50% for LIV at L3 and 18% for LIV at L4. Patients without AON had a significantly better LC correction and TC correction (p < 0.01). For patients with LIV at L3, a significant prediction model for AON was established including variables addressed by surgeons: postoperative LC and TC (negative predictive value 78%, positive predictive value 79%, sensitivity 79%, specificity 81%).

CONCLUSIONS

An analysis of 101 patients with Lenke 3, 4, and 6 curves showed that TC and LC correction had significant influence on LSC resolution and the risk for AON. Improving LC correction and achieving an LC < 20° offers the potential to lower the risk for AON, particularly in patients with LIV at L3.