Group-based Trajectory Modeling: A Novel Approach to Classifying Discriminative Functional Status Following Adult Spinal Deformity Surgery: Study of a 3-year Follow-up Group.


Study design

Retrospective review of prospectively collected database.


To delineate and visualize trajectories of the functional status in surgically-treated adult spinal deformity (ASD) patients.

Summary of background data

Classifying long-term recovery following ASD surgery is not well defined.


One thousand one hundred seventy-one surgically-treated patients with a minimum of 3-year follow-up were included. The group-based trajectory modeling (GBTM) was used to identify distinct trajectories of functional status over time, measured by Oswestry Disability Index (ODI). Patient profiles were then compared according to the observed functional patterns.


The GBTM identified four distinct functional patterns. The first group (10.0%) started with minimal disability (ODI: 15 ± 10) and ended up almost disability-free (low-low). The fourth group (21.5%) began with high ODI (66 ± 11) and improvement was minimal (high-high). Groups two (40.1%) and three (28.4%) had moderate disability (ODI: 39 ± 11 vs. 49 ± 11, P < 0.001) before surgery. Following surgery, marked improvement was seen in group two (median-low), but deterioration/no change was observed in group three (median-high). The low-low group primarily included adult idiopathic scoliosis, while the high-high group had the oldest and the most severe patients as compared with the rest of the groups. A subgroup analysis was performed between groups two and three with propensity score matching on age, body mass index, baseline physical component score (PCS), and severity of deformity. Notably, the baseline mental status of the median-high group was significantly worse than that of the median-low group, though the differences in demographics, surgery, and deformity no longer existed.


Patients with moderate-to-low disability are more likely to obtain better functional postoperative outcomes. Earlier surgical interventions should be considered to prevent progression of deformity, and to optimize favorable outcomes. Greatest improvement appears to occur in moderately disabled patients with good mental health. GBTM permits classification into distinct groups, which can help in surgical decision making and setting expectations regarding recovery.

Level of evidence






Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Yang, Jingyan, Renaud Lafage, Jeffrey L Gum, Christopher I Shaffrey, Douglas Burton, Han Jo Kim, Christopher P Ames, Gregory Mundis, et al. (2020). Group-based Trajectory Modeling: A Novel Approach to Classifying Discriminative Functional Status Following Adult Spinal Deformity Surgery: Study of a 3-year Follow-up Group. Spine, 45(13). pp. 903–910. 10.1097/brs.0000000000003419 Retrieved from

This is constructed from limited available data and may be imprecise. To cite this article, please review & use the official citation provided by the journal.



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.

Unless otherwise indicated, scholarly articles published by Duke faculty members are made available here with a CC-BY-NC (Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial) license, as enabled by the Duke Open Access Policy. If you wish to use the materials in ways not already permitted under CC-BY-NC, please consult the copyright owner. Other materials are made available here through the author’s grant of a non-exclusive license to make their work openly accessible.