Optimizing the Definition of Proximal Junctional Kyphosis: A Sensitivity Analysis.


Study design

Diagnostic binary threshold analysis.


(1) Perform a sensitivity analysis demonstrating the test performance metrics for any combination of proximal junctional angle (PJA) magnitude and change; (2) Propose a new proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK) criteria.

Summary of background data

Previous definitions of PJK have been arbitrarily selected and then tested through retrospective case series, often showing little correlation with clinical outcomes.

Materials and methods

Surgically treated adult spinal deformity patients (≥4 levels fused) enrolled into a prospective, multicenter database were evaluated at a minimum 2-year follow-up for proximal junctional failure (PJF). Using PJF as the outcome of interest, test performance metrics including sensitivity, positive predictive value, and F1 metrics (harmonic mean of precision and recall) were calculated for all combinations of PJA magnitude and change using different combinations of perijunctional vertebrae. The combination with the highest F1 score was selected as the new PJK criteria. Performance metrics of previous PJK definitions and the new PJK definition were compared.


Of the total, 669 patients were reviewed. PJF rate was 10%. Overall, the highest F1 scores were achieved when the upper instrumented vertebrae -1 (UIV-1)/UIV+2 angle was measured. For lower thoracic cases, out of all the PJA and magnitude/change combinations tested, a UIV-1/UIV+2 magnitude of -28° and a change of -20° was associated with the highest F1 score. For upper thoracic cases, a UIV-1/UIV+2 magnitude of -30° and a change of -24° were associated with the highest F1 score. Using PJF as the outcome, patients meeting this new criterion (11.5%) at 6 weeks had the lowest survival rate (74.7%) at 2 years postoperative, compared with Glattes (84.4%) and Bridwell (77.4%).


Out of all possible PJA magnitude and change combinations, without stratifying by upper thoracic versus lower thoracic fusions, a magnitude of ≤-28° and a change of ≤-22° provide the best test performance metrics for predicting PJF.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Lovecchio, Francis, Renaud Lafage, Breton Line, Shay Bess, Christopher Shaffrey, Han Jo Kim, Christopher Ames, Douglas Burton, et al. (2023). Optimizing the Definition of Proximal Junctional Kyphosis: A Sensitivity Analysis. Spine, 48(6). pp. 414–420. 10.1097/brs.0000000000004564 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/27961.

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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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