Cervical Versus Thoracolumbar Spinal Deformities: A Comparison of Baseline Quality-of-Life Burden.


Study design

Retrospective analysis of 2 prospectively collected multicenter databases, one for cervical deformity (CD) and the other for general adult spinal deformity.


To investigate the relative quality-of-life and disability burden in patients with uncompensated cervical, thoracolumbar, or cervical and thoracolumbar deformities.

Summary of background data

The relative quality-of-life burden of cervical and thoracolumbar deformities have never been compared with each other. This may have significant implications when deciding on the appropriate treatment intervention for patients with combined thoracolumbar and cervical deformities.


When defining CD C2-C7 sagittal vertical axis (SVA)>4 cm was used while a C7-S1 SVA>5 cm was used to defined thoracolumbar deformity. Patients with both SVA criteria were defined as "combined." Primary analysis compared patients in the different groups by demographic, comorbidity data, and quality-of-life scores [EuroQOL 5 dimensions questionnaire (EQ-5D)] using t tests. Secondary analysis matched deformity groups with propensity scores matching based on baseline EQ-5D scores. Differences in disease-specific metrics [the Oswestry Disability Index, Neck Disability Index, modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association questionnaire (mJOA)] were analyzed using analysis of variance tests and post hoc analysis.


In total, 212 patients were included in our analysis. Patients with CD only had less neurological deficits (mJOA: 14.6) and better EQ-5D (0.746) scores compared with patients with combined deformities (11.9, 0.716), all P<0.05. Regarding propensity score-matched deformity cohorts, 99 patients were matched with similar quality-of-life burden, 33 per deformity cohort. CD only patients had fewer comorbidities (1.03 vs. 2.12 vs. 2.70; P<0.001), whereas patients with combined deformity had more baseline neurological impairment compared with CD only patients (mJOA: 12.00 vs. 14.25; P=0.050).


Combined deformity patients were associated with the lowest quality-of-life and highest disability. Furthermore, regarding deformity cohorts matched by similar baseline quality-of-life status (EQ-5D), patients with combined deformities were associated with significantly worse neurological impairments. This finding implies that quality of life may not be a direct reflection of a patient's disability status, especially in patients with combined cervical and thoracolumbar deformities.

Level of evidence

Level III.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Passias, Peter G, Gregory W Poorman, Virginie Lafage, Justin Smith, Christopher Ames, Frank Schwab, Chris Shaffrey, Frank A Segreto, et al. (2018). Cervical Versus Thoracolumbar Spinal Deformities: A Comparison of Baseline Quality-of-Life Burden. Clinical spine surgery, 31(10). pp. 413–419. 10.1097/bsd.0000000000000743 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/28234.

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.


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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