Identification of decision criteria for revision surgery among patients with proximal junctional failure after surgical treatment of spinal deformity.


Study design

Multicenter, retrospective, consecutive case series.


This study aims to identify demographic and radiographical characteristics that influence the decision to perform revision surgery among patients with proximal junctional failure (PJF).

Summary of background data

Revision rates after PJF remain relatively high, yet the decision criteria for performing revision surgical procedures are not uniform and vary by surgeon. A better understanding of the factors that impact the decision to perform revision surgery is important in order to improve efficiency of surgical treatment of adult spinal deformity.


A cohort of 57 patients with PJF was identified retrospectively from 1218 consecutive patients with adult spinal deformity. PJF was identified on the basis of 10° postoperative increase in kyphosis between upper instrumented vertebra (UIV) and UIV +2, along with 1 or more of the following: fracture of the vertebral body of UIV or UIV +1, posterior osseoligamentous disruption, or pullout of instrumentation at the UIV. Univariate statistical analysis was performed using t tests and Fisher exact tests. Multivariate analysis was performed using logistic regression.


Twenty-seven (47.4%) patients underwent revision surgery within 6 months of the index operation. Regression results revealed that patients with combined posterior/anterior approaches at index were significantly more likely to undergo revision (P = 0.001) as were patients with more extreme proximal junctional kyphosis angulation (P = 0.034). Patients sustaining trauma were also significantly more likely to undergo revision (P = 0.019). Variables approaching but not reaching significance as predictors of revision included female sex (P = 0.066) and higher sagittal vertical axis (SVA) (P = 0.090).


The decision to perform revision surgery is complicated and varies by surgeon. Factors that seem to influence this decision include traumatic etiology of PJF, severity of proximal junctional kyphosis angulation, higher SVA, and female sex. Factors that were expected to influence revision but had no statistical effect included soft tissue versus bony mode of failure, age, levels fused, and upper thoracic versus thoracolumbar proximal junction.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Hart, Robert, Ian McCarthy, Michael Oʼbrien, Shay Bess, Brett Line, Oheneba Boachie Adjei, Doug Burton, Munish Gupta, et al. (2013). Identification of decision criteria for revision surgery among patients with proximal junctional failure after surgical treatment of spinal deformity. Spine, 38(19). pp. E1223–E1227. 10.1097/brs.0b013e31829fedde 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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