Alignment Risk Factors for Proximal Junctional Kyphosis and the Effect of Lower Thoracic Junctional Tethers for Adult Spinal Deformity.



The aims of this retrospective cohort study were to 1) identify new alignment risk factors for proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK) in adult spinal deformity (ASD) patients with lower thoracic upper instrumented vertebra (UIV) and 2) determine the effect of junctional tethers on PJK and UIV alignment.


We analyzed consecutive ASD patients who underwent posterior instrumented fusion with lower thoracic UIV (T9-T11). Posteriorly anchored junctional tethers were used more recently for ligamentous augmentation to prevent PJK. In addition to regional and global parameters, upper segmental lumbar lordosis (ULL) versus lower segmental lumbar lordosis and UIV angle (measured from UIV inferior endplate to horizontal) were assessed. Primary outcome of PJK was defined as proximal junctional angle >10° and >10° greater than the corresponding preoperative measurement. Univariable and multivariable analyses were performed.


The study cohort comprised 120 ASD patients (mean age, 67 years) with minimum 1-year follow-up. Preoperative ULL (P = 0.034) and UIV angle (P = 0.026) were associated with PJK. No independent preoperative alignment risk factors of PJK were identified in multivariable analysis. Tether use was protective against PJK (odds ratio, 0.063 [0.016-0.247]; P < 0.001). PJK in tethered patients was more common with greater postoperative ULL (P = 0.047) and UIV angle (P = 0.026).


Junctional tethers significantly reduced PJK in ASD patients with lower thoracic UIV. In tethered patients, PJK was more common with greater postoperative lordosis of the upper lumbar spine and greater UIV angle. This finding suggests potential benefit of tethers to mitigate effects of segmental lumbar and focal UIV malalignment that may occur after deformity surgery.





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Publication Info

Buell, Thomas J, Ching-Jen Chen, John C Quinn, Avery L Buchholz, Marcus D Mazur, Jeffrey P Mullin, James H Nguyen, Davis G Taylor, et al. (2019). Alignment Risk Factors for Proximal Junctional Kyphosis and the Effect of Lower Thoracic Junctional Tethers for Adult Spinal Deformity. World neurosurgery, 121. pp. e96–e103. 10.1016/j.wneu.2018.08.242 Retrieved from

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