Patients with adult spinal deformity treated operatively report greater baseline pain and disability than patients treated nonoperatively; however, deformities differ between age groups.


Study design

Multicenter, prospective analysis of consecutive patients with adult spinal deformity (ASD).


Identify age-related radiographical parameters associated with poor health-related quality of life (HRQOL) and treatment preferences for ASD.

Summary of background data

Patients with ASD report discrepant severities of disability. Understanding age-associated differences for reported disability and treatment preferences may improve ASD evaluation and treatment.


Baseline demographic, radiographical, and HRQOL values were evaluated in a multicenter, prospective cohort of consecutive patients with ASD.

Inclusion criteria

ASD, age more than 18 years, and no prior spine surgery. Patients were grouped into those treated operatively (OP) or nonoperatively (NON) and stratified into 3 age groups: G1, 50 years or less; G2, 50 to 65 years; G3, 65 years or more. HRQOL measures included Scoliosis Research Society-22r questionnaire, Oswestry Disability Index, and Short Form-36 Health Survey.


Four hundred ninety-seven patients (OP = 156, NON = 341) with a mean age of 50.4 years met inclusion criteria. The OP group was older (53.3 vs. 49.0 yr), had larger scoliosis (49.3° vs. 43.3°), larger sagittal vertical axis (SVA, 33.2 vs. 13.7 mm), greater pelvic incidence-lumbar lordosis mismatch (6.6°vs. 3.1°), and worse HRQOL scores than the NON group, respectively (P < 0.05). Age stratification demonstrated worsening of SVA, spinopelvic alignment (SPA), and HRQOL scores with increasing age (P < 0.05). Age/treatment stratification demonstrated that younger OP had greater scoliosis than NON (G1OP = 49.9°vs. G1NON = 42.2°; G2OP = 56°vs. G2NON = 47.2°; P < 0.05) but similar SPA as NON. Older OP had similar scoliosis, but larger SVA than NON (G3OP = 100.6 vs. G3NON = 66.4 mm; P < 0.05). OP in all age groups reported worse HRQOL than NON (P < 0.05).


Poor HRQOL uniformly determined operative treatment for ASD. Spinal deformities differed between age groups. Younger OP had larger scoliosis but similar SPA and SVA than NON. Older OP had similar scoliosis but worse SVA than NON. Age-associated differences for poor HRQOL must be considered when evaluating patients with ASD.

Level of evidence






Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Fu, Kai-Ming G, Shay Bess, Christopher I Shaffrey, Justin S Smith, Virginie Lafage, Frank Schwab, Douglas C Burton, Behrooz A Akbarnia, et al. (2014). Patients with adult spinal deformity treated operatively report greater baseline pain and disability than patients treated nonoperatively; however, deformities differ between age groups. Spine, 39(17). pp. 1401–1407. 10.1097/brs.0000000000000414 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.

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