Operative treatment outcomes for adult cervical deformity: a prospective multicenter assessment with mean 3-year follow-up

J Neurosurg Spine 37:855–864, 2022

Adult cervical deformity (ACD) has high complication rates due to surgical complexity and patient frailty. Very few studies have focused on longer-term outcomes of operative ACD treatment. The objective of this study was to assess minimum 2-year outcomes and complications of ACD surgery.

METHODS A multicenter, prospective observational study was performed at 13 centers across the United States to evaluate surgical outcomes for ACD. Demographics, complications, radiographic parameters, and patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs; Neck Disability Index, modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association, EuroQol-5D [EQ-5D], and numeric rating scale [NRS] for neck and back pain) were evaluated, and analyses focused on patients with ≥ 2-year follow-up.

RESULTS Of 169 patients with ACD who were eligible for the study, 102 (60.4%) had a minimum 2-year follow-up (mean 3.4 years, range 2–8.1 years). The mean age at surgery was 62 years (SD 11 years). Surgical approaches included anterior-only (22.8%), posterior-only (39.6%), and combined (37.6%). PROMs significantly improved from baseline to last follow-up, including Neck Disability Index (from 47.3 to 33.0) and modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association score (from 12.0 to 12.8; for patients with baseline score ≤ 14), neck pain NRS (from 6.8 to 3.8), back pain NRS (from 5.5 to 4.8), EQ-5D score (from 0.74 to 0.78), and EQ-5D visual analog scale score (from 59.5 to 66.6) (all p ≤ 0.04). More than half of the patients (n = 58, 56.9%) had at least one complication, with the most common complications including dysphagia, distal junctional kyphosis, instrumentation failure, and cardiopulmonary events. The patients who did not achieve 2-year follow-up (n = 67) were similar to study patients based on baseline demographics, comorbidities, and PROMs. Over the course of follow-up, 23 of the total 169 enrolled patients were reported to have died. Notably, these represent all-cause mortalities during the course of follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS This multicenter, prospective analysis demonstrates that operative treatment for ACD provides significant improvement of health-related quality of life at a mean 3.4-year follow-up, despite high complication rates and a high rate of all-cause mortality that is reflective of the overall frailty of this patient population. To the authors’ knowledge, this study represents the largest and most comprehensive prospective effort to date designed to assess the intermediate-term outcomes and complications of operative treatment for ACD.

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.

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.

Total uncinectomy of the cervical spine with an osteotome

J Neurosurg Spine 31:831–834, 2019

Total uncinate process resection or uncinectomy is often required in the setting of severe foraminal stenosis or cervical kyphosis correction. The proximity of the uncus to the vertebral artery, nerve root, and spinal cord makes this a challenging undertaking. Use of a high-speed burr or ultrasonic bone dissector can be associated with direct injury to the vertebral artery and thermal injury to the surrounding structures. The use of an osteotome is a safe and efficient method of uncinectomy.

Here the authors describe their technique, which is illustrated with an intraoperative video.

Outcomes of Operative Treatment for Adult Cervical Deformity

Neurosurgery 83:1031–1039, 2018

Despite the potential for profound impact of adult cervical deformity (ACD) on function and health-related quality of life (HRQOL), there are few high-quality studies that assess outcomes of surgical treatment for these patients.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the impact of surgical treatment for ACD on HRQOL.

METHODS: We conducted a prospective cohort study of surgically treated ACD patients eligible for 1-yr follow-up. Baseline deformity characteristics, surgical parameters, and 1-yr HRQOL outcomes were assessed.

RESULTS: Of 77 ACD patients, 55 (71%) had 1-yr follow-up (64% women, mean age of 62 yr, mean Charlson Comorbidity Index of 0.6, previous cervical surgery in 47%). Diagnoses included cervical sagittal imbalance (56%), cervical kyphosis (55%), proximal junctional kyphosis (7%) and coronal deformity (9%). Posterior fusion was performed in 85% (mean levels = 10), and anterior fusion was performed in 53% (mean levels = 5). Three-column osteotomy was performed in 24%of patients.One year following surgery, ACD patients had significant improvement in Neck Disability Index (50.5 to 38.0, P<.001), neck pain numeric rating scale score (6.9 to 4.3, P<.001), EuroQol 5 dimension (EQ-5D) index (0.51 to 0.66, P< .001), and EQ-5D subscores: mobility (1.9 to 1.7, P=.019), usual activities (2.2 to 1.9, P=.007), pain/discomfort (2.4 to 2.1, P < .001), anxiety/depression (1.8 to 1.5, P = .014).

CONCLUSION: Based on a prospective multicenter series of ACD patients, surgical treatment provided significant improvement in multiple measures of pain and function, including Neck Disability Index, neck pain numeric rating scale score, and EQ-5D. Further follow-up will be necessary to assess the long-term durability of these improved outcomes.

 

Global Spinal Alignment in Cervical Kyphotic Deformity: The Importance of Head Position and Thoracolumbar Alignment in the Compensatory Mechanism

Neurosurgery 82:686–694, 2018

Previous studies have evaluated cervical kyphosis (C-kypho) using cervical curvature or chin-brow vertical angle, but the relationship between C-kypho and global spinal alignment is currently unknown.

OBJECTIVE: To elucidate global spinal alignment and compensatory mechanisms in primary symptomatic C-kypho using full-spine radiography.

METHODS: In this retrospectivemulticenter study, symptomatic primary C-kypho patients (Cerv group; n=103) and adult thoracolumbar deformity patients (TL group; n=119) were compared.We subanalyzed Cerv subgroups according to sagittal vertical axis (SVA) values of C7 (SVAC7 positive or negative [C7P or C7N]). Various Cobb angles (◦) and SVAs (mm) were evaluated.

RESULTS: SVAC7 values were –20.2 and 63.6 mm in the Cerv group and TL group, respectively (P < .0001). Various statistically significant compensatory curvatures were observed in the Cerv group, namely larger lumbar lordosis (LL) and thoracic kyphosis. The C7N group had significantly lower SVACOG (center of gravity of the head) and SVAC7 (32.9 and –49.5 mm) values than the C7P group (115.9 and 45.1 mm). Sagittal curvatures were also different in T4-12, T10-L2, LL4-S, and LL. The value of pelvic incidence (PI)-LL was different (C7N vs C7P; –2.2◦ vs 9.9◦; P < .0003). Compensatory sagittal curvatures were associated with potential for shifting of SVAC7 posteriorly to adjust head position. PI-LL affected these compensatory mechanisms. CONCLUSION: Compensation in symptomatic primary C-kypho was via posterior shifting of SVAC7, small T1 slope, and large LL. However, even in C-kypho patients, lumbar degeneration might affect global spinal alignment. Thus, global spinal alignment with cervical kyphosis is characterized as head balanced or trunk balanced.

Cervical radiographic parameters in 1- and 2-level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion

cervical-radiographic-parameters-in-1-and-2-level-anterior-cervical-discectomy-and-fusion

J Neurosurg Spine 25:421–429, 2016

Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is one of the most commonly performed spine procedures. It can be used to correct cervical kyphotic deformity, which is the most common cervical deformity, and is often performed using lordotic interbody devices. Worsening of the cervical sagittal parameters is associated with decreased health-related quality of life. The study hypothesis is that through the use of machined lordotic allografts in ACDF, segmental and overall cervical lordosis can be maintained or increased, which will have a positive impact on overall cervical sagittal alignment.

Methods: Seventy-four cases of 1-level ACDF (ACDF1) and 2-level ACDF (ACDF2) (40 ACDF1 and 34 ACDF2 procedures) were retrospectively reviewed. Upright neutral lateral radiographs were assessed preoperatively and at 6 weeks and 1 year postoperatively. The measured radiographic parameters included focal lordosis, disc height, C2–7 lordosis, C1–7 lordosis, T-1 slope, and C2–7 sagittal vertical axis. Correlation coefficients were calculated to determine the relationships between these radiographic measurements.

Results: The mean values were as follows: preoperative focal lordosis was 0.574°, disc height was 4.48 mm, C2–7 lordosis was 9.66°, C1–7 lordosis was 42.5°, cervical sagittal vertebral axis (SVA) was 26.9 mm, and the T-1 slope was 33.2°. Cervical segmental lordosis significantly increased by 6.31° at 6 weeks and 6.45° at 1 year. C2–7 lordosis significantly improved by 1 year with a mean improvement of 3.46°. There was a significant positive correlation between the improvement in segmental lordosis and overall cervical lordosis. Overall cervical lordosis was significantly negatively correlated with cervical SVA. Improved segmental lordosis was not correlated with cervical SVA in ACDF1 patients but was significantly negatively correlated in ACDF2 patients. There was also a significant positive correlation between the T-1 slope and cervical SVA.

Conclusions In the study population, the improvement of focal lordosis was significantly correlated with an improvement in overall lordosis (C1–7 and C2–7), and overall lordosis as measured by the C2–7 Cobb angle was significantly negatively correlated with cervical SVA. Using lordotic cervical allografts, we successfully created and maintained significant improvement in cervical segmental lordosis at the 6-week and 1-year time points with values of 6.31° and 6.45°, respectively. ACDF is able to achieve statistically significant improvement in C2–7 cervical lordosis by the 1-year followup, with a mean improvement of 3.46°. Increasing the number of levels operated on resulted in improved cervical sagittal parameters. This establishes a baseline for further examination into the ability of multilevel ACDF to achieve cervical deformity correction through the intervertebral correction of lordosis.

Complication Rates Associated With Adult Cervical Deformity Surgery

prospective-multicenter-assessment-of-early-complication-rates-associated-with-adult-cervical-deformity-surgery-in-78-patients

Neurosurgery 79:378–388, 2016

Few reports have focused on treatment of adult cervical deformity (ACD).

OBJECTIVE: To present early complication rates associated with ACD surgery.

METHODS: A prospective multicenter database of consecutive operative ACD patients was reviewed for early (#30 days from surgery) complications. Enrollment required at least 1 of the following: cervical kyphosis .10 degrees, cervical scoliosis .10 degrees, C2-7 sagittal vertical axis .4 cm, or chin-brow vertical angle .25 degrees.

RESULTS: Seventy-eight patients underwent surgical treatment for ACD (mean age, 60.8 years). Surgical approaches included anterior-only (14%), posterior-only (49%), anterior-posterior (35%), and posterior-anterior-posterior (3%). Mean numbers of fused anterior and posterior vertebral levels were 4.7 and 9.4, respectively. A total of 52 early complications were reported, including 26 minor and 26 major. Twenty-two (28.2%) patients had at least 1 minor complication, and 19 (24.4%) had at least 1 major complication. Overall, 34 (43.6%) patients had at least 1 complication. The most common complications included dysphagia (11.5%), deep wound infection (6.4%), new C5 motor deficit (6.4%), and respiratory failure (5.1%). One (1.3%) mortality occurred. Early complication rates differed significantly by surgical approach: anterior-only (27.3%), posterior-only (68.4%), and anterior-posterior/posterior-anterior- posterior (79.3%) (P = .007).

CONCLUSION: This report provides benchmark rates for overall and specific ACD surgery complications. Although the surgical approach(es) used were likely driven by the type and complexity of deformity, there were significantly higher complication rates associated with combined and posterior-only approaches compared with anterior-only approaches. These findings may prove useful in treatment planning, patient counseling, and ongoing efforts to improve safety of care.

Assessment of Impact of Long-Cassette Standing X-Rays on Surgical Planning for Cervical Pathology

ssessment of Impact of Long-Cassette Standing X-Rays on Surgical Planning for Cervical Pathology

Neurosurgery 78:717–724, 2016

Understanding the role of regional segments of the spine in maintaining global balance has garnered significant attention recently. Long-cassette radiographs (LCR) are necessary to evaluate global spinopelvic alignment. However, it is unclear how LCRs impact operative decision-making for cervical spine pathology.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate whether the addition of LCRs results in changes to respondents’ operative plans compared to standard imaging of the involved cervical spine in an international survey of spine surgeons.

METHODS: Fifteen cases (5 control cases with normal and 10 test cases with abnormal global alignment) of cervical pathology were presented online with a vignette and cervical imaging. Surgeons were asked to select a surgical plan from 6 options, ranging from the least (1 point) to most (6 points) extensive. Cases were then reordered and presented again with LCRs and the same surgical plan question.

RESULTS: One hundred fifty-seven surgeons completed the survey, of which 79% were spine fellowship trained. The mean response scores for surgical plan increased from 3.28 to 4.0 (P = .003) for test cases with the addition of LCRs. However, no significant changes (P = .10) were identified for the control cases. In 4 of the test cases with significant mid thoracic kyphosis, 29% of participants opted for the more extensive surgical options of extension to the mid and lower thoracic spine when they were provided with cervical imaging only, which significantly increased to 58.3% upon addition of LCRs.

CONCLUSION: In planning for cervical spine surgery, surgeons should maintain a low threshold for obtaining LCRs to assess global spinopelvic alignment.

Cervical spine alignment, sagittal deformity, and clinical implications

cervical malalignement

This paper is a narrative review of normal cervical alignment, methods for quantifying alignment, and how alignment is associated with cervical deformity, myelopathy, and adjacent-segment disease (ASD), with discussions of health-related quality of life (HRQOL).

Popular methods currently used to quantify cervical alignment are discussed including cervical lordosis, sagittal vertical axis, and horizontal gaze with the chin-brow to vertical angle.

Cervical deformity is examined in detail as deformities localized to the cervical spine affect, and are affected by, other parameters of the spine in preserving global sagittal alignment. An evolving trend is defining cervical sagittal alignment.

Evidence from a few recent studies suggests correlations between radiographic parameters in the cervical spine and HRQOL. Analysis of the cervical regional alignment with respect to overall spinal pelvic alignment is critical. The article details mechanisms by which cervical kyphotic deformity potentially leads to ASD and discusses previous studies that suggest how postoperative sagittal malalignment may promote ASD.

Further clinical studies are needed to explore the relationship of cervical malalignment and the development of ASD. Sagittal alignment of the cervical spine may play a substantial role in the development of cervical myelopathy as cervical deformity can lead to spinal cord compression and cord tension. Surgical correction of cervical myelopathy should always take into consideration cervical sagittal alignment, as decompression alone may not decrease cord tension induced by kyphosis. Awareness of the development of postlaminectomy kyphosis is critical as it relates to cervical myelopathy.

The future direction of cervical deformity correction should include a comprehensive approach in assessing global cervicalpelvic relationships. Just as understanding pelvic incidence as it relates to lumbar lordosis was crucial in building our knowledge of thoracolumbar deformities, T-1 incidence and cervical sagittal balance can further our understanding of cervical deformities. Other important parameters that account for the cervical-pelvic relationship are surveyed in detail, and it is recognized that all such parameters need to be validated in studies that correlate HRQOL outcomes following cervical deformity correction.

Degree of kyphosis correction and neurological outcome

Cervical lordosis

J Neurosurg Spine 18:537–544, 2013

Reversal of the normal cervical spine curvature, as seen in cervical kyphosis, can lead to mechanical pain, neurological dysfunction, and functional disabilities. Surgical intervention is warranted in patients with sufficiently symptomatic deformities in an attempt to correct the deformed cervical spine. In theory, improved outcomes should accompany a greater degree of correction toward lordosis, although there are few data available to test this relationship. The purpose of this study is to determine if the degree of deformity correction correlates with improvement in neurological symptoms following surgery for cervical kyphotic deformity.

Methods. A retrospective review of 36 patients with myelopathic symptoms who underwent cervical deformity correction surgery between 2001 and 2009 was performed. Preoperative and postoperative radiographic findings related to the degree of kyphosis were collected and compared with functional outcome measures. The minimum follow-up time was 2 years.

Results. A significant relationship was observed between a greater degree of focal kyphosis correction and improved neurological outcomes according to the modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association (mJOA) score (r = -0.46, p = 0.032). For patients with severe neurological symptoms (mJOA score < 12) a trend toward improved outcomes with greater global kyphosis correction was observed (r = -0.56, p = 0.057). Patients with an mJOA score less than 16 who attained lordosis postoperatively had a significantly greater improvement in total mJOA score than patients who maintained a kyphotic position (achieved lordosis: 2.7 ± 2.0 vs maintained kyphosis: 1.1 ± 2.1, p = 0.044).

Conclusions. The authors’ results suggest that the degree of correction of focal kyphosis deformity correlates with improved neurological outcomes. The authors also saw a positive relationship between attainment of global lordosis and improved mJOA scores. With consideration for the risks involved in correction surgery, this information can be used to help guide surgical strategy decision making.