Global coronal decompensation and adult spinal deformity surgery: comparison of upper-thoracic versus lower-thoracic proximal fixation for long fusions

The International Spine Study Group (ISSG)

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE Deterioration of global coronal alignment (GCA) may be associated with worse outcomes after adult spinal deformity (ASD) surgery. The impact of fusion length and upper instrumented vertebra (UIV) selection on patients with this complication is unclear. The authors’ objective was to compare outcomes between long sacropelvic fusion with upper-thoracic (UT) UIV and those with lower-thoracic (LT) UIV in patients with worsening GCA ≥ 1 cm. METHODS This was a retrospective analysis of a prospective multicenter database of consecutive ASD patients. Index operations involved instrumented fusion from sacropelvis to thoracic spine. Global coronal deterioration was defined as worsening GCA ≥ 1 cm from preoperation to 2-year follow-up. RESULTS Of 875 potentially eligible patients, 560 (64%) had complete 2-year follow-up data, of which 144 (25.7%) demonstrated worse GCA at 2-year postoperative follow-up (35.4% of UT patients vs 64.6% of LT patients). At baseline, UT patients were younger (61.6 ± 9.9 vs 64.5 ± 8.6 years, p = 0.008), a greater percentage of UT patients had osteoporosis (35.3% vs 16.1%, p = 0.009), and UT patients had worse scoliosis (51.9° ± 22.5° vs 32.5° ± 16.3°, p < 0.001). Index operations were comparable, except UT patients had longer fusions (16.4 ± 0.9 vs 9.7 ± 1.2 levels, p < 0.001) and operative duration (8.6 ± 3.2 vs 7.6 ± 3.0 hours, p = 0.023). At 2-year follow-up, global coronal deterioration averaged 2.7 ± 1.4 cm (1.9 to 4.6 cm, p < 0.001), scoliosis improved (39.3° ± 20.8° to 18.0° ± 14.8°, p < 0.001), and sagittal spinopelvic alignment improved significantly in all patients. UT patients maintained smaller positive C7 sagittal vertical axis (2.7 ± 5.7 vs 4.7 ± 5.7 cm, p = 0.014). Postoperative 2-year health-related quality of life (HRQL) significantly improved from baseline for all patients. HRQL comparisons demonstrated that UT patients had worse Scoliosis Research Society–22r (SRS-22r) Activity (3.2 ± 1.0 vs 3.6 ± 0.8, p = 0.040) and SRS-22r Satisfaction (3.9 ± 1.1 vs 4.3 ± 0.8, p = 0.021) scores. Also, fewer UT patients improved by ≥ 1 minimal clinically important difference in numerical rating scale scores for leg pain (41.3% vs 62.7%, p = 0.020). Comparable percentages of UT and LT patients had complications (208 total, including 53 reoperations, 77 major complications, and 78 minor complications), but the percentage of reoperated patients was higher among UT patients (35.3% vs 18.3%, p = 0.023). UT patients had higher reoperation rates of rod fracture (13.7% vs 2.2%, p = 0.006) and pseudarthrosis (7.8% vs 1.1%, p = 0.006) but not proximal junctional kyphosis (9.8% vs 8.6%, p = 0.810). CONCLUSIONS In ASD patients with worse 2-year GCA after long sacropelvic fusion, UT UIV was associated with worse 2-year HRQL compared with LT UIV. This may suggest that residual global coronal malalignment is clinically less tolerated in ASD patients with longer fusion to the proximal thoracic spine. These results may inform operative planning and improve patient counseling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)761-773
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Spine
Volume35
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Keywords

  • Adult spinal deformity
  • HRQL
  • complications
  • coronal imbalance/malalignment
  • global coronal alignment
  • health-related quality of life
  • outcomes
  • scoliosis surgery
  • upper instrumented vertebra

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