Low-Density Pedicle Screw Constructs Are Associated with Lower Incidence of Proximal Junctional Failure in Adult Spinal Deformity Surgery.


Study design

Retrospective cohort study.


Determine whether screws per level and rod material/diameter are associated with incidence of proximal junctional kyphosis (PJF).

Summary of background data

PJF is a common and particularly adverse complication of adult spinal deformity (ASD) surgery. There is evidence that the rigidity of posterior spinal constructs may impact risk of PJF.


Patients with ASD and 2-year minimum follow-up were included. Only patients undergoing primary fusion of more than or equal to five levels with lower instrumented vertebrae (LIV) at the sacro-pelvis were included. Screws per level fused was analyzed with a cutoff of 1.8 (determined by receiver operating characteristic curve (ROC) analysis). Multivariable logistic regression was utilized, controlling for age, body mass index (BMI), 6-week postoperative change from baseline in lumbar lordosis, number of posterior levels fused, sex, Charlson comorbidity index, approach, osteotomy, upper instrumented vertebra (UIV), osteoporosis, preoperative TPA, and pedicle screw at the UIV (as opposed to hook, wire, etc.).


In total, 504 patients were included. PJF occurred in 12.7%. The mean screws per level was 1.7, and 56.8% of patients had less than 1.8 screws per level. No differences were observed between low versus high screw density groups for T1-pelvic angle or magnitude of lordosis correction (both P > 0.15). PJF occurred in 17.0% versus 9.4% of patients with more than or equal to 1.8 versus less than 1.8 screws per level, respectively (P < 0.05). In multivariable analysis, patients with less than 1.8 screws per level exhibited lower odds of PJF (odds ratio (OR) 0.48, P < 0.05), and a continuous variable for screw density was significantly associated with PJF (OR 3.87 per 0.5 screws per level, P < 0.05). Rod material and diameter were not significantly associated with PJF (both P > 0.1).


Among ASD patients undergoing long-segment primary fusion to the pelvis, the risk of PJF was lower among patients with less than 1.8 screws per level. This finding may be related to construct rigidity. Residual confounding by other patient and surgeon-specific characteristics may exist. Further biomechanical and clinical studies exploring this relationship are warranted.Level of Evidence: 3.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Durand, Wesley M, Kevin J DiSilvestro, Han Jo Kim, David K Hamilton, Renaud Lafage, Peter G Passias, Themistocles S Protopsaltis, Virginie Lafage, et al. (2022). Low-Density Pedicle Screw Constructs Are Associated with Lower Incidence of Proximal Junctional Failure in Adult Spinal Deformity Surgery. Spine, 47(6). pp. 463–469. 10.1097/brs.0000000000004290 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/28031.

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.

Unless otherwise indicated, scholarly articles published by Duke faculty members are made available here with a CC-BY-NC (Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial) license, as enabled by the Duke Open Access Policy. If you wish to use the materials in ways not already permitted under CC-BY-NC, please consult the copyright owner. Other materials are made available here through the author’s grant of a non-exclusive license to make their work openly accessible.