The impact of postoperative neurologic complications on recovery kinetics in cervical deformity surgery.



The objective of the study is to investigate which neurologic complications affect clinical outcomes the most following cervical deformity (CD) surgery.


CD patients (C2-C7 Cobb >10°, CL >10°, cSVA >4 cm or chin-brow vertical angle >25°) >18 years with follow-up surgical and health-related quality of life (HRQL) data were included. Descriptive analyses assessed demographics. Neurologic complications assessed were C5 motor deficit, central neurodeficit, nerve root motor deficits, nerve sensory deficits, radiculopathy, and spinal cord deficits. Neurologic complications were classified as major or minor, then: intraoperative, before discharge, before 30 days, before 90 days, and after 90 days. HRQL outcomes were assessed at 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year. Integrated health state (IHS) for the neck disability index (NDI), EQ5D, and modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association (mJOA) were assessed using all follow-up time points. A subanalysis assessed IHS outcomes for patients with 2Y follow-up.


153 operative CD patients were included. Baseline characteristics: 61 years old, 63% female, body mass index 29.7, operative time 531.6 ± 275.5, estimated blood loss 924.2 ± 729.5, 49% posterior approach, 18% anterior approach, 33% combined. 18% of patients experienced a total of 28 neurologic complications in the postoperative period (15 major). There were 7 radiculopathy, 6 motor deficits, 6 sensory deficits, 5 C5 motor deficits, 2 central neurodeficits, and 2 spinal cord deficits. 11.2% of patients experienced neurologic complications before 30 days (7 major) and 15% before 90 days (12 major). 12% of neurocomplication patients went on to have revision surgery within 6 months and 18% within 2 years. Neurologic complication patients had worse mJOA IHS scores at 1Y but no significant differences between NDI and EQ5D (0.003 vs. 0.873, 0.458). When assessing individual complications, central neurologic deficits and spinal cord deficit patients had the worst outcomes at 1Y (2.6 and 1.8 times worse NDI scores, P = 0.04, no improvement in EQ5D, 8% decrease in EQ5D). Patients with sensory deficits had the best NDI and EQ5D outcomes at 1Y (31% decrease in NDI, 8% increase in EQ5D). In a subanalysis, neurologic patients trended toward worse NDI and mJOA IHS outcomes (P = 0.263, 0.163).


18% of patients undergoing CD surgery experienced a neurologic complication, with 15% within 3 months. Patients who experienced any neurologic complication had worse mJOA recovery kinetics by 1 year and trended toward worse recovery at 2 years. Of the neurologic complications, central neurologic deficits and spinal cord deficits were the most detrimental.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Passias, Peter Gust, Avery E Brown, Haddy Alas, Katherine E Pierce, Cole A Bortz, Bassel Diebo, Renaud Lafage, Virginie Lafage, et al. (2021). The impact of postoperative neurologic complications on recovery kinetics in cervical deformity surgery. Journal of craniovertebral junction & spine, 12(4). pp. 393–400. 10.4103/jcvjs.jcvjs_108_21 Retrieved from

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Peter Passias

Instructor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

Christopher Ignatius Shaffrey

Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery

I have more than 25 years of experience treating patients of all ages with spinal disorders. I have had an interest in the management of spinal disorders since starting my medical education. I performed residencies in both orthopaedic surgery and neurosurgery to gain a comprehensive understanding of the entire range of spinal disorders. My goal has been to find innovative ways to manage the range of spinal conditions, straightforward to complex. I have a focus on managing patients with complex spinal disorders. My patient evaluation and management philosophy is to provide engaged, compassionate care that focuses on providing the simplest and least aggressive treatment option for a particular condition. In many cases, non-operative treatment options exist to improve a patient’s symptoms. I have been actively engaged in clinical research to find the best ways to manage spinal disorders in order to achieve better results with fewer complications.

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