Anterolateral versus posterior minimally invasive lumbar interbody fusion surgery for spondylolisthesis: comparison of outcomes from a global, multicenter study at 12-months follow-up

The Spine Journal 23 (2023) 1494−1505

Several minimally invasive lumbar interbody fusion techniques may be used as a treatment for spondylolisthesis to alleviate back and leg pain, improve function and provide stability to the spine. Surgeons may choose an anterolateral or posterior approach for the surgery however, there remains a lack of real-world evidence from comparative, prospective studies on effectiveness and safety with relatively large, geographically diverse samples and involving multiple surgical approaches.

PURPOSE: To test the hypothesis that anterolateral and posterior minimally invasive approaches are equally effective in treating patients with spondylolisthesis affecting one or two segments at 3months follow-up and to report and compare patient reported outcomes and safety profiles between patients at 12-months post-surgery.

DESIGN: Prospective, multicenter, international, observational cohort study.

PATIENT SAMPLE: Patients with degenerative or isthmic spondylolisthesis who underwent 1- or 2-level minimally invasive lumbar interbody fusion.

OUTCOME MEASURES: Patient reported outcomes assessing disability (ODI), back pain (VAS), leg pain (VAS) and quality of life (EuroQol 5D-3L) at 4-weeks, 3-months and 12-months follow-up; adverse events up to 12-months; and fusion status at 12-months post-surgery using X-ray and/or CT-scan. The primary study outcome is improvement in ODI score at 3-months. METHODS: Eligible patients from 26 sites across Europe, Latin America and Asia were consecutively enrolled. Surgeons with experience in minimally invasive lumbar interbody fusion procedures used, according to clinical judgement, either an anterolateral (ie, ALIF, DLIF, OLIF) or posterior (MIDLF, PLIF, TLIF) approach. Mean improvement in disability (ODI) was compared between groups using ANCOVA with baseline ODI score used as a covariate. Paired t-tests were used to examine change from baseline in PRO for both surgical approaches at each timepoint after surgery. A secondary ANCOVA using a propensity score as a covariate was used to test the robustness of conclusions drawn from the between group comparison.

RESULTS: Participants receiving an anterolateral approach (n=114) compared to those receiving a posterior approach (n=112) were younger (56.9 vs 62.0 years, p <.001), more likely to be employed (49.1% vs 25.0%, p<.001), have isthmic spondylolisthesis (38.6% vs 16.1%, p<.001) and less likely to only have central or lateral recess stenosis (44.9% vs 68.4%, p=.004). There were no statistically significant differences between the groups for gender, BMI, tobacco use, duration of conservative care, grade of spondylolisthesis, or the presence of stenosis. At 3-months follow-up there was no difference in the amount of improvement in ODI between the anterolateral and posterior groups (23.2 § 21.3 vs 25.8 § 19.5, p=.521). There were no clinically meaningful differences between the groups on mean improvement for back- and leg-pain, disability, or quality of life until the 12-months follow-up. Fusion rates of those assessed (n=158; 70% of the sample), were equivalent between groups (anterolateral, 72/88 [81.8%] fused vs posterior, 61/70 [87.1%] fused; p=.390).

CONCLUSIONS: Patients with degenerative lumbar disease and spondylolisthesis who underwent minimally invasive lumbar interbody fusion presented statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvements from baseline up to 12-months follow-up. There were no clinically relevant differences between patients operated on using an anterolateral or posterior approach.

Comparison of minimally invasive decompression alone versus minimally invasive short-segment fusion in the setting of adult degenerative lumbar scoliosis:

J Neurosurg Spine 39:394–403, 2023

Patients with degenerative lumbar scoliosis (DLS) and neurogenic pain may be candidates for decompression alone or short-segment fusion. In this study, minimally invasive surgery (MIS) decompression (MIS-D) and MIS short-segment fusion (MIS-SF) in patients with DLS were compared in a propensity score–matched analysis.

METHODS The propensity score was calculated using 13 variables: sex, age, BMI, Charlson Comorbidity Index, smoking status, leg pain, back pain, grade 1 spondylolisthesis, lateral spondylolisthesis, multilevel spondylolisthesis, lumbar Cobb angle, pelvic incidence minus lumbar lordosis, and pelvic tilt in a logistic regression model. One-to-one matching was performed to compare perioperative morbidity and patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs). The minimal clinically important difference (MCID) for patients was calculated based on cutoffs of percentage change from baseline: 42.4% for Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), 25.0% for visual analog scale (VAS) low-back pain, and 55.6% for VAS leg pain.

RESULTS A total of 113 patients were included in the propensity score calculation, resulting in 31 matched pairs. Perioperative morbidity was significantly reduced for the MIS-D group, including shorter operative duration (91 vs 204 minutes, p < 0.0001), decreased blood loss (22 vs 116 mL, p = 0.0005), and reduced length of stay (2.6 vs 5.1 days, p = 0.0004). Discharge status (home vs rehabilitation), complications, and reoperation rates were similar. Preoperative PROMs were similar, but after 3 months, improvement was significantly higher for the MIS-SF group in the VAS back pain score (−3.4 vs −1.2, p = 0.044) and Veterans RAND 12-Item Health Survey (VR-12) Mental Component Summary (MCS) score (+10.3 vs +1.9, p = 0.009), and after 1 year the MIS-SF group continued to have significantly greater improvement in the VAS back pain score (−3.9 vs −1.2, p = 0.026), ODI score (−23.1 vs −7.4, p = 0.037), 12-Item Short-Form Health Survey MCS score (+6.5 vs −6.5, p = 0.0374), and VR-12 MCS score (+7.6 vs −5.1, p = 0.047). MCID did not differ significantly between the matched groups for VAS back pain, VAS leg pain, or ODI scores (p = 0.38, 0.055, and 0.072, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS Patients with DLS undergoing surgery had similar rates of significant improvement after both MIS-D and MIS-SF. For matched patients, tradeoffs were seen for reduced perioperative morbidity for MIS-D versus greater magnitudes of improvement in back pain, disability, and mental health for patients 1 year after MIS-SF. However, rates of MCID were similar, and the small sample size among the matched patients may be subject to patient outliers, limiting generalizability of these results.

Spinopelvic sagittal compensation in adult cervical deformity

J Neurosurg Spine 39:1–10, 2023

The objective of this study was to evaluate spinopelvic sagittal alignment and spinal compensatory changes in adult cervical kyphotic deformity.

METHODS A database composed of 13 US spine centers was retrospectively reviewed for adult patients who underwent cervical reconstruction with radiographic evidence of cervical kyphotic deformity: C2–7 sagittal vertical axis > 4 cm, chin-brow vertical angle > 25°, or cervical kyphosis (T1 slope [T1S] cervical lordosis [CL] > 15°) (n = 129). Sagittal parameters were evaluated preoperatively and in the early postoperative window (6 weeks to 6 months postoperatively) and compared with asymptomatic control patients. Adult cervical deformity patients were further stratified by degree of cervical kyphosis (severe kyphosis, C2–T3 Cobb angle ≤ −30°; moderate kyphosis, ≤ 0°; and minimal kyphosis, > 0°) and severity of sagittal malalignment (severe malalignment, sagittal vertical axis T3–S1 ≤ −60 mm; moderate malalignment, ≤ 20 mm; and minimal malalignment > 20 mm).

RESULTS Compared with asymptomatic control patients, cervical deformity was associated with increased C0–2 lordosis (32.9° vs 23.6°), T1S (33.5° vs 28.0°), thoracolumbar junction kyphosis (T10–L2 Cobb angle −7.0° vs −1.7°), and pelvic tilt (PT) (19.7° vs 15.9°) (p < 0.01). Cervicothoracic kyphosis was correlated with C0–2 lordosis (R = −0.57, p < 0.01) and lumbar lordosis (LL) (R = −0.20, p = 0.03). Cervical reconstruction resulted in decreased C0–2 lordosis, increased T1S, and increased thoracic and thoracolumbar junction kyphosis (p < 0.01). Patients with severe cervical kyphosis (n = 34) had greater C0–2 lordosis (p < 0.01) and postoperative reduction of C0–2 lordosis (p = 0.02) but no difference in PT. Severe cervical kyphosis was also associated with a greater increase in thoracic and thoracolumbar junction kyphosis postoperatively (p = 0.01). Patients with severe sagittal malalignment (n = 52) had decreased PT (p = 0.01) and increased LL (p < 0.01), as well as a greater postoperative reduction in LL (p < 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS Adult cervical deformity is associated with upper cervical hyperlordotic compensation and thoracic hypokyphosis. In the setting of increased kyphotic deformity and sagittal malalignment, thoracolumbar junction kyphosis and lumbar hyperlordosis develop to restore normal center of gravity. There was no consistent compensatory pelvic retroversion or anteversion among the adult cervical deformity patients in this cohort.

Mechanical complications and patient-reported outcome measures associated with high pelvic incidence and persistent pelvic retroversion: the Roussouly “false type 2” profile

J Neurosurg Spine May 12, 2023

OBJECTIVE The objective of this paper was to report mechanical complications and patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) for adult spinal deformity (ASD) patients with a Roussouly “false type 2” (FT2) profile.

METHODS ASD patients treated from 2004 to 2014 at a single center were identified. Inclusion criteria were pelvic incidence ≥ 60° and a minimum 2-year follow-up. FT2 was defined as a high postoperative pelvic tilt (PT), as defined by the Global Alignment and Proportion target, and thoracic kyphosis < 30°. Mechanical complications, defined as proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK) and/or instrumentation failure, were determined and compared. Scoliosis Research Society22r (SRS-22r) scores were compared between groups.

RESULTS Ninety-five patients (normal PT [NPT] group 49, FT2 group 46) who met the inclusion criteria were identified and studied. Most surgeries were revisions (NPT group 30 [61%], FT2 group 30 [65%]), and most were performed via a posterior-only approach (86%) (mean ± SD 9.6 ± 5 levels). Proximal junctional angles increased after surgery in both groups, without differences between groups. Neither rates of radiographic PJK (p = 0.10), revision for PJK (p = 0.45), nor revision for pseudarthrosis (p = 0.66) were different between groups. There were no differences between groups for SRS-22r domain scores or subscores.

CONCLUSIONS In this single-center experience, patients with high pelvic incidence fixed with persistent lumbopelvic parameter mismatch and engaged compensatory mechanisms (Roussouly FT2) had mechanical complications and PROMs not different from those with normalized alignment parameters. Compensatory PT may be acceptable in some cases of ASD surgery.

Correlation between the spinopelvic type and morphological characteristics of lumbar facet joints in degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis

J Neurosurg Spine 38:425–435, 2023

The correlation between the spinopelvic type and morphological characteristics of lumbar facet joints in patients with degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis (DLS) was investigated.

METHODS One hundred forty-two patients with L4 DLS were enrolled (DLS group), and 100 patients with lumbar disc herniation without DLS were selected as the control group (i.e., non–lumbar spondylolisthesis [NL] group). Morphological parameters of L4–5 facet joints and L4–5 disc height and angle were measured on 3D reconstructed CT images; namely, the facet joint angle (FJA), pedicle–facet joint angle (PFA), facet joint tropism, and facet joint osteoarthritis (OA). The L4 slip percentage, sacral slope, and lumbar lordosis were measured on radiographs. Patients in the DLS and NL groups were divided into 4 subgroups according to Roussouly classification (types I, II, III, and IV).

RESULTS In the DLS and NL groups, as the spinopelvic type changed from type II to type IV, the facet joint morphology showed a gradual sagittal orientation in the FJA, a gradual horizontal orientation in the PFA, a gradual severity in OA, and a gradual increase in the slip percentage, but changes were completely opposite from type I to type II. Additionally, compared with the NL group, the facet joint morphology in the DLS group had more horizontal orientation in PFA, more sagittal orientation in the FJA, and the facet joint tropism and OA were more severe.

CONCLUSIONS Facet joint morphology was correlated with spinopelvic type in the slip segment of DLS. Facet joint morphology was part of the joint configuration in different spinopelvic types, not just the result of joint remodeling after DLS. Moreover, morphological changes of the facet joints and DLS interacted with each other. Additionally, morphological remodeling of the facet joints in DLS played an important role in spinal balance and should be taken into consideration when designing a surgical approach.

Classification system for cervical spine deformity morphology: a validation study

J Neurosurg Spine 37:865–873, 2022

OBJECTIVE The objective of this study was to initially validate a recent morphological classification of cervical spine deformity pathology.

METHODS The records of 10 patients for each of the 3 classification subgroups (flat neck, focal deformity, and cervicothoracic), as well as for 8 patients with coronal deformity only, were extracted from a prospective multicenter database of patients with cervical deformity (CD). A panel of 15 physicians of various training and professional levels (i.e., residents, fellows, and surgeons) categorized each patient into one of the 4 groups. The Fleiss kappa coefficient was utilized to evaluate intra- and interrater reliability. Accuracy, defined as properly selecting the main driver of deformity, was reported overall, by morphotype, and by reviewer experience.

RESULTS The overall classification demonstrated a moderate to substantial agreement (round 1: interrater Fleiss kappa = 0.563, 95% CI 0.559–0.568; round 2: interrater Fleiss kappa = 0.612, 95% CI 0.606–0.619). Stratification by level of training demonstrated similar mean interrater coefficients (residents 0.547, fellows 0.600, surgeons 0.524). The mean intrarater score was 0.686 (range 0.531–0.823). A substantial agreement between rounds 1 and 2 was demonstrated in 81.8% of the raters, with a kappa score > 0.61. Stratification by level of training demonstrated similar mean intrarater coefficients (residents 0.715, fellows 0.640, surgeons 0.682). Of 570 possible questions, reviewers provided 419 correct answers (73.5%). When considering the true answer as being selected by at least one of the two main drivers of deformity, the overall accuracy increased to 86.0%.

CONCLUSIONS This initial validation of a CD morphological classification system reiterates the importance of dynamic plain radiographs for the evaluation of patients with CD. The overall reliability of this CD morphological classification has been demonstrated. The overall accuracy of the classification system was not impacted by rater experience, demonstrating its simplicity.

Radiographic and MRI evidence of indirect neural decompression after the anterior column realignment procedure for adult spinal deformity

J Neurosurg Spine 37:703–712, 2022

The anterior column realignment (ACR) procedure, which consists of sectioning the anterior longitudinal ligament/annulus and placing a hyperlordotic interbody cage, has emerged as a minimally invasive surgery (MIS) for achieving aggressive segmental lordosis enhancement to address adult spinal deformity (ASD). Although accumulated evidence has revealed indirect neural decompression after lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF), whether ACR serves equally well for neural decompression remains to be proven. The current study intended to clarify this ambiguous issue.

METHODS A series of 36 ASD patients with spinopelvic mismatch, defined as pelvic incidence (PI) minus lumbar lordosis (LL) > 10°, underwent a combination of ACR, LLIF, and percutaneous pedicle screw (PPS) fixation. This “MIS triad” procedure was applied over short segments with mean fusion length of 3.3 levels, and most patients underwent single-level ACR. The authors analyzed full-length standing radiographs, CT and MRI scans, and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) scores in patients with minimum 1 year of follow-up (mean [range] 20.3 [12–39] months).

RESULTS Compared with the preoperative values, the radiographic and MRI measurements of the latest postoperative studies changed as follows. Segmental disc angle more than quadrupled at the ACR level and LL nearly doubled. MRI examinations at the ACR level revealed a significant (p < 0.0001) increase in the area of the dural sac that was accompanied by significant (p < 0.0001) decreases in area and thickness of the ligamentum flavum and in thickness of the disc bulge. The corresponding CT scans demonstrated significant (all p < 0.0001) increases in disc height to 280% of the preoperative value at the anterior edge, 224% at the middle edge, and 209% at the posterior edge, as well as in pedicleto-pedicle distance to 122%. Mean ODI significantly (p < 0.0001) decreased from 46.3 to 26.0.

CONCLUSIONS The CT-based data showing vertebral column lengthening across the entire ACR segment with an increasingly greater degree anteriorly suggest that the corrective action of ACR relies on a lever mechanism, with the intact facet joints acting as the fulcrum. Whole-segment spine lengthening at the ACR level reduced the disc bulge anteriorly and the ligamentum flavum posteriorly, with eventual enlargement of the dural sac. ACR plays an important role in not only LL restoration but also stenotic spinal canal enlargement for ASD surgery.

Characteristics of patients undergoing revision surgery for proximal junctional failure after adult spinal deformity surgery

J Neurosurg Spine 37:402–409, 2022

Score on the proximal junctional kyphosis severity scale (PJKSS) has been validated to show good correlations with likelihood of revision surgery for proximal junctional failure (PJF) after surgical treatment of adult spinal deformity (ASD). However, if the patient has progressive neurological deterioration, revision surgery should be considered regardless of severity based on PJKSS score. This study aimed to revalidate the correlation of PJKSS score with likelihood of revision surgery in patients with PJF but without neurological deficit. In addition, the authors provide the cutoff score on PJKSS that indicates need for revision surgery.

METHODS A retrospective study was performed. Among 360 patients who underwent fusion of more than 4 segments including the sacrum, 83 patients who developed PJF without acute neurological deficit were included. Thirty patients underwent revision surgery (R group) and 53 patients did not undergo revision surgery (NR group). All components of PJKSS and variables other than those included in PJKSS were compared between groups. The cutoff score on PJKSS that indicated need for revision surgery was calculated with receiver operating characteristic curve analysis. Multivariate analysis with logistic regression was performed to identify which variables were most predictive of revision surgery.

RESULTS The mean patient age at the time of index surgery was 69.4 years, and the mean fusion length was 6.1 segments. All components of PJKSS, such as focal pain, instrumentation problem, change in kyphosis, fracture at the uppermost instrumented vertebra (UIV)/UIV+1, and level of UIV, were significantly different between groups. The average total PJKSS score was significantly greater in the R group than in the NR group (6.0 vs 3.9, p < 0.001). The calculated cutoff score was 4.5, with 70% sensitivity and specificity. There were no significant between-group differences in patient, surgical, and radiographic factors (other than the PJKSS components). Three factors were significantly associated with revision surgery on multivariate analysis: instrumentation problem (OR 8.160, p = 0.004), change in kyphosis (OR 4.809, p = 0.026), and UIV/UIV+1 fracture (OR 6.462, p = 0.002).

CONCLUSIONS PJKSS score positively predicted need for revision surgery in patients with PJF who were neurologically intact. The calculated cutoff score on PJKSS that indicated need for revision surgery was 4.5, with 70% sensitivity and specificity. The factor most responsible for revision surgery was bony failure with > 20° focal kyphotic deformity. Therefore, early revision surgery should be considered for these patients even in the absence of neurological deficit.

Do the newly proposed realignment targets for C2 and T1 slope bridge the gap between radiographic and clinical success in corrective surgery for adult cervical deformity?

J Neurosurg Spine 37:368–375, 2022

Surgical correction of cervical deformity (CD) has been associated with superior alignment and functional outcomes. It has not yet been determined whether baseline or postoperative T1 slope (T1S) and C2 slope (C2S) correlate with health-related quality-of-life (HRQoL) metrics and radiographic complications, such as distal junctional kyphosis (DJK) and distal junctional failure (DJF). The objective of this study was to determine the impact of T1S and C2S deformity severity on HRQoL metrics and DJF development in patients with CD who underwent a cervical fusion procedure.

METHODS All operative CD patients with upper instrumented vertebra above C7 and preoperative (baseline) and up to 2-year postoperative radiographic and HRQoL data were included. CD was defined as meeting at least one of the following radiographic parameters: C2–7 lordosis < −15°, TS1–cervical lordosis mismatch > 35°, segmental cervical kyphosis > 15° across any 3 vertebrae between C2 and T1, C2–7 sagittal vertical axis > 4 cm, McGregor’s slope > 20°, or chin-brow vertical angle > 25°. Spearman’s rank-order correlation and linear regression analysis assessed the impact of T1S and C2S on HRQoL metrics (Neck Disability Index [NDI], modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association [mJOA] scale, EuroQOL 5-Dimension Questionnaire [EQ-5D] visual analog scale [VAS] score, and numeric rating scale [NRS]–neck) and complications (DJK, DJF, reoperation). Logistic regression and a conditional inference tree (CIT) were used to determine radiographic thresholds for achieving optimal clinical outcome, defined as meeting good clinical outcome criteria (≥ 2 of the following: NDI < 20 or meeting minimal clinically important difference, mild myelopathy [mJOA score ≥ 14], and NRS-neck ≤ 5 or improved by ≥ 2 points), not undergoing reoperation, or developing DJF or mechanical complication by 2 years.

RESULTS One hundred five patients with CD met inclusion criteria. By surgical approach, 14.7% underwent an anterioronly approach, 46.1% a posterior-only approach, and 39.2% combined anterior and posterior approaches. The mean baseline radiographic parameters were T1S 28.3° ± 14.5° and C2S 25.9° ± 17.5°. Significant associations were found between 3-month C2S and mJOA score (r = −0.248, p = 0.034), NDI (r = 0.399, p = 0.001), EQ-5D VAS (r = −0.532, p < 0.001), NRS-neck (r = 0.239, p = 0.040), and NRS-back (r = 0.264, p = 0.021), while significant correlation was also found between 3-month T1S and mJOA score (r = −0.314, p = 0.026), NDI (r = 0.445, p = 0.001), EQ-5D VAS (r = −0.347, p = 0.018), and NRS-neck (r = 0.269, p = 0.049). A significant correlation was also found between development of DJF and 3-month C2S (odds ratio [OR] 1.1, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.01–1.1, p = 0.015) as well as for T1S (OR 1.1, 95% CI 1.01–1.1, p = 0.023). Logistic regression with CIT identified thresholds for optimal outcome by 2 years: optimal 3-month T1S < 26° (OR 5.6) and C2S < 10° (OR 10.4), severe 3-month T1S < 45.5° (OR 0.2) and C2S < 38.0° (no patient above this threshold achieved optimal outcome; all p < 0.05). Patients below both optimal thresholds achieved rates of 0% for DJK and DJF, and 100% met optimal outcome.

CONCLUSIONS The severity of CD, defined by T1S and C2S at baseline and especially at 3 months, can be predictive of postoperative functional improvement and occurrence of worrisome complications in patients with CD, necessitating the use of thresholds in surgical planning to achieve optimal outcomes.

Understanding the role of pelvic obliquity and leg length discrepancy in adult spinal deformity patients with coronal malalignment

J Neurosurg Spine 37:64–72, 2022

This study had 3 objectives: 1) to describe pelvic obliquity (PO) and leg-length discrepancy (LLD) and their relationship with coronal malalignment (CM); 2) to report rates of isolated PO and PO secondary to LLD; and 3) to assess the importance of preoperative PO and LLD in postoperative complications, readmission, reoperation, and patient-reported outcomes.

METHODS Patients undergoing surgery (≥ 6-level fusions) for adult spinal deformity at a single institution were reviewed. Variables evaluated were as follows: 1) PO, angle between the horizontal plane and a line touching bilateral iliac crests; and 2) LLD, distance from the head to the tibial plafond. Coronal vertical axis (CVA) and sagittal vertical axis measurements were collected, both from C7. The cutoff for CM was CVA > 3 cm. The Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) was collected preoperatively and at 2 years.

RESULTS Of 242 patients undergoing surgery for adult spinal deformity, 90 (37.0%) had preoperative CM. Patients with preoperative CM had a higher PO (2.8° ± 3.2° vs 2.0° ± 1.7°, p = 0.013), a higher percentage of patients with PO > 3° (35.6% vs 23.5%, p = 0.044), and higher a percentage of patients with LLD > 1 cm (21.1% vs 9.8%, p = 0.014). Whereas preoperative PO was significantly positively correlated with CVA (r = 0.26, p < 0.001) and maximum Cobb angle (r = 0.30, p < 0.001), preoperative LLD was only significantly correlated with CVA (r = 0.14, p = 0.035). A total of 12.2% of patients with CM had significant PO and LLD, defined as follows: PO ≥ 3°; LLD ≥ 1 cm. Postoperatively, preoperative PO was significantly associated with both postoperative CM (OR 1.22, 95% CI 1.05–1.40, p = 0.008) and postoperative CVA (β = 0.14, 95% CI 0.06–0.22, p < 0.001). A higher preoperative PO was independently associated with postoperative complications after multivariate logistic regression (OR 1.24, 95% CI 1.05–1.45, p = 0.010); however, 2-year ODI scores were not. Preoperative LLD had no significant relationship with postoperative CM, CVA, ODI, or complications.

CONCLUSIONS A PO ≥ 3° or LLD ≥ 1 cm was seen in 44.1% of patients with preoperative CM and in 23.5% of patients with normal coronal alignment. Preoperative PO was significantly associated with preoperative CVA and maximum Cobb angle, whereas preoperative LLD was only associated with preoperative CVA. The direction of PO and LLD showed no consistent pattern with CVA. Preoperative PO was independently associated with complications but not with 2-year ODI scores.

Surgical versus Nonsurgical Treatment for Adult Spinal Deformity: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

World Neurosurg. (2022) 159:1-11

OBJECTIVE: To systematically evaluate the efficacy and safety of surgical and nonsurgical methods for the treatment of adult spinal deformity (ASD).

METHODS: The PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane Library databases were searched for relevant controlled studies of surgical and nonsurgical approaches for the treatment of ASD; all studies reported from database creation to October 2021 were eligible for inclusion. Stata 11.0 software was used for the metaanalysis. Publication bias was assessed using a Begg test. Heterogeneity was assessed using the I2 test, and fixed-effects or random-effects models were used, as appropriate. Meta-regression was used to determine the cause of heterogeneity. Subgroup analyses were performed to assess the effects of age on the outcomes. –

RESULTS: Eleven articles comprising 1880 participants met the inclusion criteria. Meta-analysis showed that surgical treatment was associated with a better improvement in function than was nonsurgical treatment (Scoliosis Research Society 22 questionnaire score change value: weighted mean difference [ 0.696; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.686e0.705; P < 0.0001; Oswestry Dysfunction Index change value: WMD [ 11.222; 95% CI, 10.801e11.642; P < 0.0001). Surgical treatment was more effective in relieving pain and correcting the deformity (numeric rating scale pain score: WMD[3.341; 95% CI, 2.832e3.85; P < 0.0001; Cobb angle change value: WMD [ 15.036 ; 95% CI, 13.325e16.747; P < 0.0001). The complication rate in the surgical group was 17.6%e80.3%.

CONCLUSIONS: Surgical treatment is better than nonsurgical methods for improving the function of patients with ASD and achieving good pain improvement and deformity correction. Elderly patients with ASD can also obtain good symptomatic improvement through surgery

Usefulness of anterior column release for segmental lordosis restoration in degenerative lumbar kyphosis

J Neurosurg Spine 36:422–428, 2022

Three-column osteotomies (3COs) for surgical correction of lumbar kyphosis show a strong correction capacity, but this procedure carries high morbidity rates. The anterior column release (ACR) technique was developed as a less invasive procedure. In this study the authors aimed to evaluate sagittal alignment restoration using ACR and to determine factors that affect the degree of correction.

METHODS This study included 36 patients (68 cases) who underwent ACR of more than one level for adult spinal deformity. Parameters for regional sagittal alignment included segmental lordosis (SL). The parameters for global sagittal alignment included pelvic incidence, lumbar lordosis, sacral slope, pelvic tilt, and sagittal vertical axis (SVA). In addition, the interdiscal height (IDH) and difference of interdiscal angle (DIDA) were measured to evaluate the stiffness of the vertebra segment. The changes in SL were evaluated after ACR and the change of global sagittal alignment was also determined. Factors such as the location of the ACR level, IDH, DIDA, cage height, and additional posterior column osteotomy (PCO) were analyzed for correlation with the degree of SL correction.

RESULTS Thirty-six patients were included in this study. A total of 68 levels were operated with the ACR (8 levels at L2–3, 27 levels at L3–4, and 33 levels at L4–5). ACR was performed for 1 level in 10 patients, 2 levels in 20, and 3 levels in 6 patients (mean 1.9   0.7 levels per patient). Mean follow-up duration was 27.1   4.2 months. The mean SL of the total segment was 0.4    7.2  preoperatively and increased by 15.3    5.5  at the last follow-up (p < 0.001); thus, the mean increase of SL was 14.9    8.1  per one ACR. Global sagittal alignment was also improved following SL restoration with SVA from 101.9 mm to 31.4 mm. The degree of SL correction was correlated with the location of ACR level (p = 0.041) and was not correlated with IDH, DIDA, cage height and additional PCO.

CONCLUSIONS This study demonstrated that the mean correction angle of SL was 14.9 per one ACR. The degree of disc space collapse and stiffness of segment did not affect the degree of correction by ACR.


Patient outcomes after circumferential minimally invasive surgery compared with those of open correction for adult spinal deformity

J Neurosurg Spine 36:203–214, 2022

Circumferential minimally invasive spine surgery (cMIS) for adult scoliosis has become more advanced and powerful, but direct comparison with traditional open correction using prospectively collected data is limited. The authors performed a retrospective review of prospectively collected, multicenter adult spinal deformity data. The authors directly compared cMIS for adult scoliosis with open correction in propensity-matched cohorts using health-related quality-of-life (HRQOL) measures and surgical parameters.

METHODS Data from a prospective, multicenter adult spinal deformity database were retrospectively reviewed. Inclusion criteria were age > 18 years, minimum 1-year follow-up, and one of the following characteristics: pelvic tilt (PT) > 25 , pelvic incidence minus lumbar lordosis (PI-LL) > 10 , Cobb angle > 20 , or sagittal vertical axis (SVA) > 5 cm. Patients were categorized as undergoing cMIS (percutaneous screws with minimally invasive anterior interbody fusion) or open correction (traditional open deformity correction). Propensity matching was used to create two equal groups and to control for age, BMI, preoperative PI-LL, pelvic incidence (PI), T1 pelvic angle (T1PA), SVA, PT, and number of posterior levels fused.

RESULTS A total of 154 patients (77 underwent open procedures and 77 underwent cMIS) were included after matching for age, BMI, PI-LL (mean 15  vs 17 , respectively), PI (54  vs 54 ), T1PA (21  vs 22 ), and mean number of levels fused (6.3 vs 6). Patients who underwent three-column osteotomy were excluded. Follow-up was 1 year for all patients. Postoperative Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) (p = 0.50), Scoliosis Research Society–total (p = 0.45), and EQ-5D (p = 0.33) scores were not different between cMIS and open patients. Maximum Cobb angles were similar for open and cMIS basepatients at baseline (25.9  vs 26.3 , p = 0.85) and at 1 year postoperation (15.0  vs 17.5 , p = 0.17). In total, 58.3% of open patients and 64.4% of cMIS patients (p = 0.31) reached the minimal clinically important difference (MCID) in ODI at 1 year. At 1 year, no differences were observed in terms of PI-LL (p = 0.71), SVA (p = 0.46), PT (p = 0.9), or Cobb angle (p = 0.20). Open patients had greater estimated blood loss compared with cMIS patients (1.36 L vs 0.524 L, p < 0.05) and fewer levels of interbody fusion (1.87 vs 3.46, p < 0.05), but shorter operative times (356 minutes vs 452 minutes, p = 0.003). Revision surgery rates between the two cohorts were similar (p = 0.97).

CONCLUSIONS When cMIS was compared with open adult scoliosis correction with propensity matching, HRQOL improvement, spinopelvic parameters, revision surgery rates, and proportions of patients who reached MCID were similar between cohorts. However, well-selected cMIS patients had less blood loss, comparable results, and longer operative times in comparison with open patients.



Impact of an intraoperative coronal spinal alignment measurement technique using a navigational tool for a 3D spinal rod bending system in adult spinal deformity cases

J Neurosurg Spine 36:62–70, 2022

In corrective spinal surgery for adult spinal deformity (ASD), the focus has been on achieving optimal spinopelvic alignment. However, the correction of coronal spinal alignment is equally important. The conventional intraoperative measurement methods currently used for coronal alignment are not ideal. Here, the authors have developed a new intraoperative coronal alignment measurement technique using a navigational tool for a 3D spinal rod bending system (CAMNBS). The purpose of this study was to test the feasibility of using the CAMNBS for coronal spinal alignment and to evaluate its usefulness in corrective spinal surgery for ASD.

METHODS In this retrospective cohort study, patients with degenerative lumbar kyphoscoliosis, a Cobb angle ≥ 20°, and lumbar lordosis ≤ 20° who had undergone corrective surgery (n = 67) were included. The pelvic teardrops on both sides, the S1 spinous process, the central point of the apex, a point on the 30-mm cranial (or caudal) side of the apex, and the central point of the upper instrumented vertebra (UIV) and C7 vertebra were registered using the CAMNBS. The positional information of all registered points was displayed as 2D figures on a monitor. Deviation of the UIV plumb line from the central sacral vertical line (UIV-CSVL) and deviation of the C7 plumb line from the CSVL (C7-CSVL) were measured using the 2D figures. Nineteen patients evaluated using the CAMNBS (BS group) were compared with 48 patients evaluated using conventional intraoperative radiography (XR group). The UIV-CSVL measured intraoperatively using the CAMNBS was compared with that measured using postoperative radiography. The prevalence of postoperative coronal malalignment (CM) and the absolute value of postoperative C7-CSVL were compared between the groups on radiographs obtained in the standing position within 4 weeks after surgery. Postoperative CM was defined as the absolute value of C7-CSVL ≥ 30 mm. Further, the measurement time and amount of radiation exposure were measured.

RESULTS No significant differences in demographic, sagittal, and coronal parameters were observed between the two groups. UIV-CSVL was 2.3 ± 9.5 mm with the CAMNBS and 1.8 ± 16.6 mm with the radiographs, showing no significant difference between the two methods (p = 0.92). The prevalence of CM was 2/19 (10.5%) in the BS group and 18/48 (37.5%) in the XR group, and absolute values of C7-CSVL were 15.2 ± 13.1 mm in the BS group and 25.0 ± 18.0 mm in the XR group, showing statistically significant differences in both comparisons (p = 0.04 and 0.03, respectively). The CAMNBS method required 3.5 ± 0.9 minutes, while the conventional radiograph method required 13.3 ± 1.5 minutes; radiation exposure was 2.1 ± 1.1 mGy in the BS group and 2.9 ± 0.6 mGy in the XR group. Statistically significant differences were demonstrated in both comparisons (p = 0.0002 and 0.03, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS From this study, it was evident that the CAMNBS did not increase postoperative CM compared with that seen using the conventional radiographic method, and hence can be used in clinical practice.


Understanding sagittal compensation in adult spinal deformity patients: relationship between pelvic tilt and lower-extremity position

J Neurosurg Spine 35:616–623, 2021

In adult spinal deformity (ASD), quantifying preoperative lower-extremity (LE) compensation is important in formulating an operative plan to achieve optimal global sagittal alignment. Whole-body radiographs are not always available. This study evaluated the possibility of estimating LE compensation without whole-body radiographs.

METHODS In total, 200 consecutive ASD patients with full-body radiographic assessment were categorized into the following three groups according to their cranio-hip balance (distance from the cranial sagittal vertical axis to the hip axis [CrSVA-H]): group 1, anterior-shift (A-shift) group (CrSVA-H > 40 mm); group 2, balanced group, −40 mm < CrSVA-H < 40 mm; and group 3, posterior-shift (P-shift) group, CrSVA-H < −40 mm. After analyzing the correlation between CrSVAH, pelvic tilt (PT), and LE parameters, the cutoff PT and PT/pelvic incidence (PI) values that correlated with the presence of LE compensation were determined. Previously published data from asymptomatic volunteers were used as a baseline threshold (sacrofemoral angle [SFA] > 217.0° and knee flexion angle [KA] > 11.0°).

RESULTS Among the hip, knee, and ankle, only KA showed a significant increase in the A-shift group compared to the other two groups (p < 0.01). With a wide threshold (SFA > 208.0° and KA > 5.0°), 84.9% of the A-shift group showed LE compensation (hip or knee or both), which was a significantly greater percentage than those in the balanced and P-shift groups (48.4% and 51.9%, p < 0.01). With a narrow threshold (SFA > 217.0° and KA > 11.0°), 62.2% of the A-shift group showed any LE compensation, which was also a higher percentage than the other two groups. The CrSVA-H was moderately correlated with KA (r = 0.502), but had no correlation with PT, SFA, and ankle dorsiflexion angle (AA). PT showed a moderate/strong correlation with SFA, KA, and AA (r = 0.846, 0.624, and 0.622, respectively). With receiver operating characteristic curves, the authors determined that a 23.0° PT with PT/PI > 0.46 predicts the presence of any type of LE compensation with use of the wide threshold.

CONCLUSIONS ASD patients with increased CrSVA-H, which represents cranio-hip anterior imbalance, demonstrated a higher prevalence of LE compensation, especially knee flexion, compared to those with neutral and posterior shift of CrSVA. PT represents the extent of LE compensation in patients with spinal sagittal malalignment. Using the cutoff value of PT determined in this study, surgeons can preoperatively estimate the extent of LE compensation without obtaining a full-body radiograph.

Impact of focal apex angle on postoperative decompression status of the spinal cord and neurological recovery after cervical laminoplasty

J Neurosurg Spine 35:410–418, 2021

Although anterior compression factors and cervical alignment affect neural decompression, cervical laminoplasty may be used to achieve indirect posterior decompression. The focal apex (FA) angle of the anterior compression factor of the spine represents the degree of anterior prominence toward the spinal cord. The authors investigated the mechanism underlying the influence of FA angle and cervical alignment on spinal cord alignment (SCA) after laminoplasty, including how high-intensity signal cord change (HISCC) on preoperative T2-weighted MRI (T2-MRI) may affect neurological improvement.

METHODS We performed a retrospective study of patients who underwent laminoplasty for CSM or OPLL at two hospitals (Kanto Rosai Hospital, Kawasaki City, and Yokohama Minami Kyousai Hospital, Yokohama City, Japan) between April 2004 and March 2015. In total, 109 patients (mean age 67.3 years) with cervical compression myelopathy were included. FA angle was defined as the preoperative angle between the lines from the top of the prominence to the upper and lower adjacent vertebrae. Preoperative cervical alignment was measured between the C2 and C7 vertebrae (C2–7 angle). MRI was used to classify SCA as lordosis (type-L SCA), straight (type-S), local kyphosis (type-LK), or kyphosis (type-K). Preoperative HISCC was investigated by using T2-MRI. Neurological status was evaluated by using the Japanese Orthopaedic Association score.

RESULTS The mean preoperative FA and C2–7 angles were 32.1° and 12.4°, respectively. Preoperative SCA was type- L or type-S in 53 patients. The neurological recovery rate (NRR) was significantly higher for patients with preoperative type-L and type-S SCA (51.4% for those with type-L and 45.0% for those with type-S) than for patients with other types (35.3% for those with type-LK and 31.7% for those with type-K). Among patients with preoperative type-L or type-S SCA, 87.3% maintained SCA; however, 5/12 (41.7%) patients with a preoperative average C2–7 angle < 12.4° and an average FA angle > 32.1° had postoperative type-LK or type-K SCA. SCA changed to type-L or type-S in 13.0% of patients with preoperative type-LK or type-K SCA. Moreover, in these patients, FA angle was significantly smaller and NRR was significantly higher than in other patients in whom postoperative SCA remained type-LK or type-K. Preoperative T2- MRI showed 73 patients with HISCC (43 with type-L and type-S, and 30 with type-LK and type-K SCA) and 36 without HISCC (20 with type-L and type-S, and 16 with type-LK and type-K SCA); the NRRs of these patients were 42.6% and 41.2%, respectively. No significant differences in SCA or NRR were observed between patients with and without HISCC.

CONCLUSIONS NRR depends on preoperative SCA type; however, it is possible to change the type of SCA after laminoplasty. Preoperative FA and C2–7 angles influence change in SCA; therefore, they are important parameters for successful decompression with cervical laminoplasty.

Safety of lateral access to the concave side for adult spinal deformity

J Neurosurg Spine 35:100–104, 2021

Minimally invasive surgery (MIS) techniques, particularly lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF), have become increasingly popular for adult spinal deformity (ASD) correction. Much discussion has been had regarding theoretical and clinical advantages to addressing coronal curvature from the convex versus concave side of the curve. In this study, the authors aimed to broadly evaluate the clinical outcomes of addressing ASD with circumferential MIS (cMIS) techniques while accessing the lumbar coronal curvature from the concave side.

METHODS A multi-institution, retrospective chart and radiographic review was performed for all ASD patients with at least a 10° curvature, as defined by the Scoliosis Research Society, who underwent cMIS correction. The data collected included convex versus concave access to the coronal curve, durable or sensory femoral nerve injury lasting longer than 6 weeks, vascular injury, visceral injury, and any additional major complication, with at least a 2-year follow-up. Neither health-related quality-of-life metrics nor spinopelvic parameters were included within the scope of this study.

RESULTS A total of 152 patients with ASD treated with cMIS correction via lateral access were identified and analyzed. Of these, 126 (82.9%) were approached from the concave side and 26 (17.1%) were approached from the convex side. In the concave group, 1 (0.8%) motor and 4 (3.2%) sensory deficit cases remained at 6 weeks after the operation. No vascular, visceral, or catastrophic intraoperative injuries were encountered in the concave group. Of the 26 patients in the convex group, 2 (7.7%) experienced motor deficits lasting longer than 6 weeks and 5 (19.2%) had lower-extremity sensory deficits.

CONCLUSIONS It has been reported that lateral access to the convex side is associated with similar clinical and radiographic outcomes with fewer complications when compared with access to the concave side. Advantages to approaching the lumbar spine from the concave side include using one incision to access multiple levels, breaking the operative table to assist with curvature correction, easier access to the L4–5 disc space, the ability to release the contracted side, and, often, avoidance of the need to access or traverse the thoracic cavity. This study illustrates the largest reported cohort of concave access for cMIS scoliosis correction; few postoperative sensory and motor deficits were found.


Coronal balance with circumferential minimally invasive spinal deformity surgery for the treatment of degenerative scoliosis

J Neurosurg Spine 34:879–887, 2021

Coronal malalignment (CM) in adult spinal deformity is associated with poor outcomes and remains underappreciated in the literature. Recent attempts at classifying CM indicate that some coronal shifts may be more difficult to treat than others. To date, outcomes for circumferential minimally invasive surgery (cMIS) of the spine in the context of these new CM classifications are unreported.

METHODS A retrospective evaluation of patients with degenerative scoliosis (Cobb angle > 20 ) consecutively treated with cMIS at a single institution was performed. Preoperative and 1-year postoperative standing radiographs were used to make the comparisons. Clinical outcome measures were compared. Patients were subgrouped according to the preoperative distance between their C7 plumb line and central sacral vertical line (C7-CSVL) as either coronally aligned (type A, C7-CSVL < 3 cm); shifted ≥ 3 cm toward the concavity (type B); or shifted ≥ 3 cm toward the convexity (type C) of the main lumbar curve.

RESULTS Forty-two patients were included (mean age 67.7 years). Twenty-six patients (62%) were classified as type A, 5 patients (12%) as type B, and 11 patients (26%) as type C. An average of 4.9 segments were treated. No type A patients developed postoperative CM. All type B patients had CM correction. Six of the 11 type C patients had CM after surgery. Overall, there was an improvement in the C7-CSVL (from 2.4 to 1.8 cm, p = 0.04). Among subgroups, only type B patients improved (from 4.5 to 0.8 cm, p = 0.002); no difference was seen for type A patients (from 1.2 to 1.4 cm, p = 0.32) or type C patients (from 4.3 to 3.1 cm, p = 0.11). Comparing type C patients with postoperative CM versus those without postoperative CM, patients with CM had worse visual analog scale back scores at 1 year (5 vs 1, p = 0.01). Moreover, they had higher postoperative L4 tilt angles (11  vs 5 , p = 0.01), indicating inadequate correction of the lumbosacral fractional curve.

CONCLUSIONS cMIS improved coronal alignment, curve magnitudes, and clinical outcomes among patients with degenerative scoliosis. It did not result in CM in type A patients and was successful at improving the C7-CSVL in type B patients. Type C patients remain the most difficult to treat coronally, with worse visual analog scale back pain scores in those with postoperative CM. Regional coronal restoration of the lumbosacral fracture curve should be the focus of correction in cMIS for these patients.


Alignment, Classification, Clinical Evaluation, and Surgical Treatment for Adult Cervical Deformity

Neurosurgery 88:864–883, 2021

Adult cervical deformity management is complex and is a growing field with many recent advancements. The cervical spine functions to maintain the position of the head plays a pivotal role in influencing subjacent global spinal alignment and pelvic tilt as compensatory changes occur to maintain horizontal gaze.

There are various types of cervical deformity and a variety of surgical options available. The major advancements in the management of cervical deformity have only been around for a few years and continue to evolve. Therefore, the goal of this article is to provide a comprehensive review of cervical alignment parameters, deformity classification, clinical evaluation, and surgical treatment of adult cervical deformity.

The information presented here may be used as a guide for proper preoperative evaluation and surgical treatment in the adult cervical deformity patient.

C7 extension crosswise osteotomy: a novel osteotomy for correction of chin-on-chest deformity in a patient with ankylosing spondylitis

J Neurosurg Spine 34:424–429, 2021

Extension crosswise osteotomy at C7 (C7 ECO) was developed for the correction of forward gaze in patients with chinon- chest deformity due to ankylosing spondylitis.

A modification of cervicothoracic extension osteoclasis (C/T EO), C7 ECO replaces osteoclasis of the anterior column with a crosswise cut of the C7 vertebral body to eliminate the risks of unintended dislocation of the cervical spine. C7 ECO also eliminates the risks of C7 and T1 pedicle subtraction osteotomies (C/T PSOs), in which a posteriorly based wedge excision may lead to stretching injuries of the lower cervical roots and/or failure to achieve the exact angle of excision required for an optimal correction.

Furthermore, opening the osteotomy anteriorly, as in the authors’ method, instead of closing it posteriorly, as in PSO, eliminates the risks related to shortening of the posterior column, such as buckling of the dura, kinking of the spinal cord, and stretching of the lower cervical nerve roots.

Here, the authors report the use of C7 ECO for the surgical treatment of a 69-year-old man with severe compromise of his forward gaze due to chin-on-chest deformity in the course of ankylosing spondylitis. After uneventful correction surgery, the patient regained the ability to see objects, namely faces of people, at the level of his head while standing and to perform work tasks at a desk.

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