Detection of pseudarthrosis in adult spinal deformity

Eric Klineberg, Munish Gupta, Ian McCarthy, Richard Hostin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Study Design: Single-center, retrospective study of consecutive surgeries. Objective: This study aimed to evaluate the reliability of previously published anterior fusion grading systems and assess the ability of health-related quality-of-life (HRQOL) outcomes to predict pseudarthrosis (PSAR). Summary of Background Data: Despite existing radiographic indicators, PSAR may still go unidentified on biplanar radiographs, and little data is available on the reliability of such grading systems in adult spinal deformity patients. As such, there is a need for a practical, noninvasive tool to help identify PSAR. Methods: This study included consecutive primary surgical patients with idiopathic or degenerative scoliosis undergoing anterior and posterior correction with instrumentation to the sacrum or pelvis and minimum 2-year follow-up. Patients were grouped into fused (no radiographic or clinical signs of PSAR) and PSAR (known PSAR diagnosed by surgical exploration or thin-cut computed tomography scan at least 1 year after surgery) cohorts. Two-year radiographs were graded by an independent blinded orthopedic deformity surgeon and a neuroradiologist. HRQOL scores [22-item Scoliosis Research Society questionnaire (SRS-22) and the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI)] at 1-year follow-up were analyzed as potential predictors of future PSAR. Results: Thirty-four patients with average follow-up of 2.2 years (2-2.5 y) were evaluated. Eight (23.5%) patients had known PSAR consisting of 40 (24.8%) anterior levels. Analysis by independent reviewers incorrectly identified 2 levels as unfused and failed to identify any PSAR levels. The PSAR group had lower average SRS scores in all domains and lower average ODI scores at 1-year postoperatively relative to fused patients. The PSAR group also showed no significant improvement in SRS or ODI scores relative to baseline. In comparison, the fused group showed significant improvement in all domains. Conclusions: Standard radiographs are insufficient for identifying PSAR in adult spinal deformity patients. Failure to achieve significant improvement in SRS and ODI should lead the surgeon to suspect PSAR and consider additional investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)318-322
Number of pages5
JournalClinical spine surgery
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • adult spinal deformity
  • health-related quality-of-life
  • pseudarthrosis


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