Distal junctional kyphosis in adult cervical deformity patients: where does it occur?



To evaluate the impact of the lowest instrumented vertebra (LIV) on Distal Junctional kyphosis (DJK) incidence in adult cervical deformity (ACD) surgery.


Prospectively collected data from ACD patients undergoing posterior or anterior-posterior reconstruction at 13 US sites was reviewed up to 2-years postoperatively (n = 140). Data was stratified into five groups by level of LIV: C6-C7, T1-T2, T3-Apex, Apex-T10, and T11-L2. DJK was defined as a kyphotic increase > 10° in Cobb angle from LIV to LIV-1. Analysis included DJK-free survival, covariate-controlled cox regression, and DJK incidence at 1-year follow-up.


25/27 cases of DJK developed within 1-year post-op. In patients with a minimum follow-up of 1-year (n = 102), the incidence of DJK by level of LIV was: C6-7 (3/12, 25.00%), T1-T2 (3/29, 10.34%), T3-Apex (7/41, 17.07%), Apex-T10 (8/11, 72.73%), and T11-L2 (4/8, 50.00%) (p < 0.001). DJK incidence was significantly lower in the T1-T2 LIV group (adjusted residual = -2.13), and significantly higher in the Apex-T10 LIV group (adjusted residual = 3.91). In covariate-controlled regression using the T11-L2 LIV group as reference, LIV selected at the T1-T2 level (HR = 0.054, p = 0.008) or T3-Apex level (HR = 0.081, p = 0.010) was associated with significantly lower risk of DJK. However, there was no difference in DJK risk when LIV was selected at the C6-C7 level (HR = 0.239, p = 0.214).


DJK risk is lower when the LIV is at the upper thoracic segment than the lower cervical segment. DJK incidence is highest with LIV level in the lower thoracic or thoracolumbar junction.





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Publication Info

Ye, Jichao, Sean M Rider, Renaud Lafage, Sachin Gupta, Ali S Farooqi, Themistocles S Protopsaltis, Peter G Passias, Justin S Smith, et al. (2023). Distal junctional kyphosis in adult cervical deformity patients: where does it occur?. European spine journal : official publication of the European Spine Society, the European Spinal Deformity Society, and the European Section of the Cervical Spine Research Society, 32(5). pp. 1598–1606. 10.1007/s00586-023-07631-6 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/27985.

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