Development of Validated Computer-based Preoperative Predictive Model for Proximal Junction Failure (PJF) or Clinically Significant PJK With 86% Accuracy Based on 510 ASD Patients With 2-year Follow-up.


Study design

A retrospective review of large, multicenter adult spinal deformity (ASD) database.


The aim of this study was to build a model based on baseline demographic, radiographic, and surgical factors that can predict clinically significant proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK) and proximal junctional failure (PJF).

Summary of background data

PJF and PJK are significant complications and it remains unclear what are the specific drivers behind the development of either. There exists no predictive model that could potentially aid in the clinical decision making for adult patients undergoing deformity correction.


Inclusion criteria: age ≥18 years, ASD, at least four levels fused. Variables included in the model were demographics, primary/revision, use of three-column osteotomy, upper-most instrumented vertebra (UIV)/lower-most instrumented vertebra (LIV) levels and UIV implant type (screw, hooks), number of levels fused, and baseline sagittal radiographs [pelvic tilt (PT), pelvic incidence and lumbar lordosis (PI-LL), thoracic kyphosis (TK), and sagittal vertical axis (SVA)]. PJK was defined as an increase from baseline of proximal junctional angle ≥20° with concomitant deterioration of at least one SRS-Schwab sagittal modifier grade from 6 weeks postop. PJF was defined as requiring revision for PJK. An ensemble of decision trees were constructed using the C5.0 algorithm with five different bootstrapped models, and internally validated via a 70 : 30 data split for training and testing. Accuracy and the area under a receiver operator characteristic curve (AUC) were calculated.


Five hundred ten patients were included, with 357 for model training and 153 as testing targets (PJF: 37, PJK: 102). The overall model accuracy was 86.3% with an AUC of 0.89 indicating a good model fit. The seven strongest (importance ≥0.95) predictors were age, LIV, pre-operative SVA, UIV implant type, UIV, pre-operative PT, and pre-operative PI-LL.


A successful model (86% accuracy, 0.89 AUC) was built predicting either PJF or clinically significant PJK. This model can set the groundwork for preop point of care decision making, risk stratification, and need for prophylactic strategies for patients undergoing ASD surgery.

Level of evidence






Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Scheer, Justin K, Joseph A Osorio, Justin S Smith, Frank Schwab, Virginie Lafage, Robert A Hart, Shay Bess, Breton Line, et al. (2016). Development of Validated Computer-based Preoperative Predictive Model for Proximal Junction Failure (PJF) or Clinically Significant PJK With 86% Accuracy Based on 510 ASD Patients With 2-year Follow-up. Spine, 41(22). pp. E1328–E1335. 10.1097/brs.0000000000001598 Retrieved from

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.



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.