At What Point Should the Thoracolumbar Region Be Addressed in Patients Undergoing Corrective Cervical Deformity Surgery?


Study design

Retrospective cohort study.


The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of cervical to thoracolumbar ratios on poor outcomes in cervical deformity (CD) corrective surgery.

Summary of background data

Consideration of distal regional and global alignment is a critical determinant of outcomes in CD surgery. For operative CD patients, it is unknown whether certain thoracolumbar parameters play a significant role in poor outcomes and whether addressing such parameters is warranted.


Included: surgical CD patients (C2-C7 Cobb >10°, cervical lordosis [CL] >10°, C2-C7 sagittal vertical axis (cSVA) >4 cm, or chin-brow vertical angle >25°) with baseline and 1-year data. Patients were assessed for ratios of preop cervical and global parameters including: C2 Slope/T1 slope, T1 slope minus C2-C7 lordosis (TS-CL)/mismatch between pelvic incidence and lumbar lordosis (PI-LL), cSVA/sagittal vertical axis (SVA). Deformity classification ratios of cervical (Ames-ISSG) to spinopelvic (SRS-Schwab) were investigated: cSVA modifier/SVA modifier, TS-CL modifier/PI-LL modifier. Cervical to thoracic ratios included C2-C7 lordosis/T4-T12 kyphosis. Correlations assessed the relationship between ratios and poor outcomes (major complication, reoperation, distal junctional kyphosis (DJK), or failure to meet minimal clinically important difference [MCID]). Decision tree analysis through multiple iterations of multivariate regressions assessed cut-offs for ratios for acquiring suboptimal outcomes.


A total of 110 CD patients were included (61.5 years, 66% F, 28.8 kg/m2). Mean preoperative radiographic ratios calculated: C2 slope/T1 slope of 1.56, TS-CL/PI-LL of 11.1, cSVA/SVA of 5.4, CL/thoracic kyphosis (TK) of 0.26. Ames-ISSG and SRS-Schwab modifier ratios: cSVA/SVA of 0.1 and TS-CL/PI-LL of 0.35. Pearson correlations demonstrated a relationship between major complications and baseline TS-CL/PI-LL, Ames TS-CL/Schwab PI-LL modifiers, and the CL/TK ratios (P < 0.050). Reoperation had significant correlation with TS-CL/PI-LL and cSVA/SVA ratios. Postoperative DJK correlated with C2 slope/T1 slope and CL/TK ratios. Not meeting MCID for Neck Disability Index (NDI) correlated with CL/TK ratio and not meeting MCID for EQ5D correlated with Ames TS-CL/Schwab PI-LL.


Consideration of cervical to global alignment is a critical determinant of outcomes in CD corrective surgery. Key ratios of cervical to global alignment correlate with suboptimal clinical outcomes. A larger cervical lordosis to TK predicted postoperative complication, DJK, and not meeting MCID for NDI.Level of Evidence: 4.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Passias, Peter G, Katherine E Pierce, Sara Naessig, Waleed Ahmad, Lara Passfall, Renaud Lafage, Virginie Lafage, Han Jo Kim, et al. (2021). At What Point Should the Thoracolumbar Region Be Addressed in Patients Undergoing Corrective Cervical Deformity Surgery?. Spine, 46(20). pp. E1113–E1118. 10.1097/brs.0000000000004045 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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