Predictive role of global spinopelvic alignment and upper instrumented vertebra level in symptomatic proximal junctional kyphosis in adult spinal deformity.

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Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of neurosurgery. Spine


PJK; SRS-Schwab; adult spinal deformity; gap; proportion; spinopelvic


OBJECTIVE: The authors of this study sought to evaluate the predictive role of global sagittal alignment and upper instrumented vertebra (UIV) level in symptomatic proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK) among patients with adult spinal deformity (ASD).

METHODS: Data on ASD patients who had undergone fusion of ≥ 5 vertebrae from 2008 to 2018 and with a minimum follow-up of 1 year were obtained from a prospectively collected multicenter database and evaluated (n = 1312). Radiographs were obtained preoperatively and at 6 weeks, 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, and 3 years postoperatively. The 22-Item Scoliosis Research Society Patient Questionnaire Revised (SRS-22r) scores were collected preoperatively, 1 year postoperatively, and 2 years postoperatively. Symptomatic PJK was defined as a kyphotic increase > 20° in the Cobb angle from the UIV to the UIV+2. At 6 weeks postoperatively, sagittal parameters were evaluated and patients were categorized by global alignment and proportion (GAP) score/category and SRS-Schwab sagittal modifiers. Patients were stratified by UIV level: upper thoracic (UT) UIV ≥ T8 or lower thoracic (LT) UIV ≤ T9.

RESULTS: Patients who developed symptomatic PJK (n = 260) had worse 1-year postoperative SRS-22r mental health (3.70 vs 3.86) and total (3.56 vs 3.67) scores, as well as worse 2-year postoperative self-image (3.45 vs 3.65) and satisfaction (4.03 vs 4.22) scores (all p ≤ 0.04). In the whole study cohort, patients with PJK had less pelvic incidence-lumbar lordosis (PI-LL) mismatch (-0.24° vs 3.29°, p < 0.001) but no difference in their GAP score/category or SRS-Schwab sagittal modifiers compared with the patients without PJK. Regression showed a higher risk of PJK with a pelvic tilt (PT) grade ++ (OR 2.35) and less risk with a PI-LL grade ++ (OR 0.35; both p < 0.01). When specifically analyzing the LT UIV cohort, patients with PJK had a higher GAP score (5.66 vs 4.79), greater PT (23.02° vs 20.90°), and less PI-LL mismatch (1.61° vs 4.45°; all p ≤ 0.02). PJK patients were less likely to be proportioned postoperatively (17.6% vs 30.0%, p = 0.015), and regression demonstrated a greater PJK risk with severe disproportion (OR 1.98) and a PT grade ++ (OR 3.15) but less risk with a PI-LL grade ++ (OR 0.45; all p ≤ 0.01). When specifically evaluating the UT UIV cohort, the PJK patients had less PI-LL mismatch (-2.11° vs 1.45°) but no difference in their GAP score/category. Regression showed a greater PJK risk with a PT grade + (OR 1.58) and a decreased risk with a PI-LL grade ++ (OR 0.21; both p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: Symptomatic PJK leads to worse patient-reported outcomes and is associated with less postoperative PI-LL mismatch and greater postoperative PT. A worse postoperative GAP score and disproportion are only predictive of symptomatic PJK in patients with an LT UIV.

Clinical Institute

Orthopedics & Sports Medicine