Prospective multi-centric evaluation of upper cervical and infra-cervical sagittal compensatory alignment in patients with adult cervical deformity.


PURPOSE:Reciprocal mechanisms for standing alignment have been described in thoraco-lumbar deformity but have not been studied in patients with primary cervical deformity (CD). The purpose of this study is to report upper- and infra-cervical sagittal compensatory mechanisms in patients with CD and evaluate their changes post-operatively. METHODS:Global spinal alignment was studied in a prospective database of operative CD patients. Inclusion criteria were any of the following: cervical kyphosis (CK) > 10°, cervical scoliosis > 10°, cSVA (C2-C7 Sagittal vertical axis) > 4 cm or CBVA (Chin Brow Vertical Angle) > 25°. For this study, patients who had previous fusion outside C2 to T4 segments were excluded. Patients were sub-classified by increasing severity of cervical kyphosis [CL (cervical lordosis): < 0°, CK-low 0°-10°, CK-high > 10°] and cSVA (cSVA-low 0-4 cm, cSVA-mid 4-6 cm, cSVA-high > 6 cm) and were compared for pre- and 3-month post-operative regional and global sagittal alignment to determine compensatory recruitment. RESULTS:75 CD patients (mean age 61.3 years, 56% women) were included. Patients with progressively larger CK had a progressive increase in C0-C2 (CL = 34°, CK-low = 37°, CK-high = 44°, p = 0.004), C2Slope and T1Slope-CL (p < 0.05). As the cSVA increased, there was progressive increase in C2Slope, T1Slope and TS-CL (p < 0.05) and patients compensated through increasing C0-C2 (cSVA-low = 33°, cSVA-mid = 40°, cSVA-high = 43°, p = 0.007) and pelvic tilt (cSVA-low = 14.9°, cSVA-mid = 24.1°, cSVA-high = 24.9°, p = 0.02). At 3 months post-op, with significant improvement in cervical alignment, there was relaxation of C0-C2 (39°-35°, p = 0.01) which positively correlated with magnitude of deformity correction. CONCLUSIONS:Patients with cervical malalignment compensate with upper cervical hyper-lordosis, presumably for the maintenance of horizontal gaze. As cSVA increases, patients also tend to exhibit increased pelvic retroversion. Following surgical treatment, there was relaxation of upper cervical compensation.





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Publication Info

Ramchandran, Subaraman, Themistocles S Protopsaltis, Daniel Sciubba, Justin K Scheer, Cyrus M Jalai, Alan Daniels, Peter G Passias, Virginie Lafage, et al. (2018). Prospective multi-centric evaluation of upper cervical and infra-cervical sagittal compensatory alignment in patients with adult cervical deformity. European spine journal : official publication of the European Spine Society, the European Spinal Deformity Society, and the European Section of the Cervical Spine Research Society, 27(2). pp. 416–425. 10.1007/s00586-017-5395-x 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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