Re-operation After Long-Segment Fusions for Adult Spinal Deformity: The Impact of Extending the Construct Below the Lumbar Spine.



Deciding where to end a long-segment fusion for adult spinal deformity (ASD) may be a challenge, particularly in the absence of an abnormality at L5/S1. Some suggest prophylactic extension of the construct to the sacrum and/or ilium (S/I) to protect against distal junctional failure, while others support terminating in the lower lumbar spine to preserve motion.


To compare the risk of re-operation after long-segment fusions for ASD that ends at L4 or L5 (L4/5) vs S/I.


A multicenter database of patients treated for ASD by circumferential minimally invasive surgery or hybrid surgical technique was screened for individuals with long fusions (≥4 vertebral levels) ending at L4 or below and with at least 2 yr of follow-up. Multivariate regression modeling was used to compare surgical morbidity between the L4/5 and S/I groups, and Cox proportional hazard modeling was used to compare risk of re-operation.


There were 45 subjects with fusion to L4/5 and 71 to S/I. Over a 32-mo median follow-up, 41 re-operations were performed; 6 were for distal junctional failure. In those with normal or mild degeneration at L5/S1, fusion to S/I afforded no significant change in re-operative risk (hazard ratio = 1.18 [95% confidence interval: 0.53-2.62], P = .682). In those undergoing circumferential minimally invasive surgery correction, fusion to S/I was associated with significantly greater blood loss (499.6 cc, P < .001) and surgical time (97.5 min, P = .04).


In the setting of a normal or mildly degenerated L5/S1 disc space, fusion to the sacrum/ilium did not significantly change the risk of requiring a re-operation after a long-segment fusion for ASD.





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Publication Info

Witiw, Christopher D, Richard G Fessler, Stacie Nguyen, Praveen Mummaneni, Neel Anand, Donald Blaskiewicz, Juan Uribe, Michael Y Wang, et al. (2018). Re-operation After Long-Segment Fusions for Adult Spinal Deformity: The Impact of Extending the Construct Below the Lumbar Spine. Neurosurgery, 82(2). pp. 211–219. 10.1093/neuros/nyx163 Retrieved from

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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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