Association between preoperative cervical sagittal deformity and inferior outcomes at 2-year follow-up in patients with adult thoracolumbar deformity: Analysis of 182 patients

International Spine Study Group

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36 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: A high prevalence of cervical deformity (CD) has been identified among adult patients with thoracolumbar spinal deformity undergoing surgical treatment. The clinical impact of this is uncertain. This study aimed to quantify the differences in patient-reported outcomes among patients with adult spinal deformity (ASD) based on presence of CD prior to treatment. METHODS: A retrospective review was conducted of a multicenter prospective database of patients with ASD who underwent surgical treatment with 2-year follow-up. Patients were grouped by the presence of preoperative CD: 1) cervical positive sagittal malalignment (CPSM) C2-7 sagittal vertical axis ≥ 4 cm; 2) cervical kyphosis (CK) C2-7 angle > 0; 3) CPSM and CK (BOTH); and 4) no baseline CD (NONE). Health-related quality of life (HRQOL) scores included the Physical Component Summary and Mental Component Summary (PCS and MCS) scores of the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36), Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), Scoliosis Research Society-22 questionnaire (SRS-22), and minimum clinically important difference (MCID) of these scores at 2 years. Standard radiographic measurements were conducted for cervical, thoracic, and thoracolumbar parameters. RESULTS: One hundred eighty-two patients were included in this study: CPSM, 45; CK, 37; BOTH, 16; and NONE, 84. Patients with preoperative CD and those without had similar baseline thoracolumbar radiographic measurements and similar correction rates at 2 years. Patients with and without preoperative CD had similar baseline HRQOL and on average both groups experienced some HRQOL improvement. However, those with preoperative CPSM had significantly worse postoperative ODI, PCS, SRS-22 Activity, SRS-22 Appearance, SRS-22 Pain, SRS-22 Satisfaction, and SRS-22 Total score, and were less likely to meet MCID for ODI, PCS, SRS-22 Activity, and SRS-22 Pain scores with the following ORs and 95% CIs: ODI 0.19 (0.07-0.58), PCS 0.17 (0.06-0.47), SRS-22 Activity 0.23 (0.09-0.62), SRS-22 Pain 0.20 (0.08-0.53), and SRS-22 Appearance 0.34 (0.12-0.94). Preoperative CK did not have an effect on outcomes. Interestingly, despite correction of the thoracolumbar deformity, 53.3% and 51.4% of patients had persistent CPSM and persistent CK, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Patients with thoracolumbar deformity without preoperative CD are likely to have greater improvements in HRQOL after surgery than patients with concomitant preoperative CD. Cervical positive sagittal alignment in adult patients with thoracolumbar deformity is strongly associated with inferior outcomes and failure to reach MCID at 2-year follow-up despite having similar baseline HRQOL to patients without CD. This was the first study to assess the impact of concomitant preoperative cervical malalignment in adult patients with thoracolumbar deformity. These results can help surgeons educate patients at risk for inferior outcomes and direct future research to identify an etiology and improve patient outcomes. Investigation into the etiology of the baseline cervical malalignment may be warranted in patients who present with thoracolumbar deformity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-115
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Spine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2016


  • Adult spinal deformity
  • Cervical deformity
  • Cervical sagittal alignment
  • Cervical sagittal vertical axis
  • Health-related quality of life
  • Minimum clinically important difference


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