Are Higher Global Alignment and Proportion Scores Associated With Increased Risks of Mechanical Complications After Adult Spinal Deformity Surgery? An External Validation.



The Global Alignment and Proportion (GAP) score, based on pelvic incidence-based proportional parameters, was recently developed to predict mechanical complications after surgery for spinal deformities in adults. However, this score has not been validated in an independent external dataset.


After adult spinal deformity surgery, is a higher GAP score associated with (1) an increased risk of mechanical complications, defined as rod fractures, implant-related complications, proximal or distal junctional kyphosis or failure; (2) a higher likelihood of undergoing revision surgery to treat a mechanical complication; and (3) is a lower (more proportioned) GAP score category associated with better validated outcomes scores using the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), Scoliosis Research Society-22 (SRS-22) and the Short Form-36 questionnaires?


A total of 272 patients who had undergone corrective surgeries for complex spinal deformities were enrolled in the Scoli-RISK-1 prospective trial. Patients were included in this secondary analysis if they fulfilled the original inclusion criteria by Yilgor et al. From the original 272 patients, 14% (39) did not satisfy the radiographic inclusion criteria, the GAP score could not be calculated in 14% (37), and 24% (64) did not have radiographic assessment at postoperative 2 years, leaving 59% (159) for analysis in this review of data from the original trial. A total of 159 patients were included in this study,with a mean age of 58 ± 14 years at the time of surgery. Most patients were female (72%, 115 of 159), the mean number of levels involved in surgery was 12 ± 4, and three-column osteotomy was performed in 76% (120 of 159) of patients. The GAP score was calculated using parameters from early postoperative radiographs (between 3 and 12 weeks) including pelvic incidence, sacral slope, lumbar lordosis, lower arc lordosis and global tilt, which were independently obtained from a computer software based on centralized patient radiographs. The GAP score was categorized as proportional (scores of 0 to 2), moderately disproportional (scores of 3 to 6), or severely disproportional (scores higher than 7 to 13). Receiver operating characteristic area under curve (AUC) was used to assess associations between GAP score and risk of mechanical complications and risk of revision surgery. An AUC of 0.5 to 0.7 was classified as "no or low associative power", 0.7 to 0.9 as "moderate" and greater than 0.9 as "high". We analyzed differences in validated outcome scores between the GAP categories using Wilcoxon rank sum test.


At a minimum of 2 years' follow-up, a higher GAP score was not associated with increased risks of mechanical complications (AUC = 0.60 [95% CI 0.50 to 0.70]). A higher GAP score was not associated with a higher likelihood of undergoing a revision surgery to treat a mechanical complication (AUC = 0.66 [95% 0.53 to 0.78]). However, a moderately disproportioned GAP score category was associated with better SF-36 physical component summary score (36 ± 10 versus 40 ± 11; p = 0.047), better SF-36 mental component summary score (46 ± 13 versus 51 ± 12; p = 0.01), better SRS-22 total score (3.4 ± 0.8 versus 3.7 ± 0.7, p = 0.02) and better ODI score (35 ± 21 versus 25 ± 20; p = 0.003) than severely disproportioned GAP score category.


Based on the findings of this external validation study, we found that alignment targets based on the GAP score alone were not associated with increased risks of mechanical complications and mechanical revisions in patients with complex adult spinal disorders. Parameters not included in the original GAP score needed to be considered to reduce the likelihood of mechanical complications.

Level of evidence

Level III, diagnostic study.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Kwan, Kenny Yat Hong, Lawrence G Lenke, Christopher I Shaffrey, Leah Y Carreon, Benny T Dahl, Michael G Fehlings, Christopher P Ames, Oheneba Boachie-Adjei, et al. (2021). Are Higher Global Alignment and Proportion Scores Associated With Increased Risks of Mechanical Complications After Adult Spinal Deformity Surgery? An External Validation. Clinical orthopaedics and related research, 479(2). pp. 312–320. 10.1097/corr.0000000000001521 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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