Selective versus nonselective fusion for idiopathic scoliosis: does lumbosacral takeoff angle change?


Study design

Retrospective review of a prospective, multicentered database.


To determine the relationship between preoperative lumbosacral takeoff angle (LSTOA) and postoperative thoracolumbar/lumbar Cobb angle (TL/L Cobb angle) in patients undergoing selective thoracic fusions

Summary of background data

Selective fusion of the thoracic curve can improve the lumbar curve inpatients with idiopathic thoracic scoliosis and a compensatory lumbar curve. Predicting improvement is controversial and determining whether to perform a selective fusion or nonselective fusion can be difficult.


Patients had undergone either nonselective or selective spinal fusion for adolescent or juvenile idiopathic scoliosis (Lenke 1B/3B/1C/3C). Outcome measures were: coronal and sagittal thoracic Cobb angle, TL/L Cobb angles, lumbar apical vertebral translation, LSTOA and coronal decompensation. Analyses compared relationships between preoperative and postoperative radiographic measures.


Positive, significant correlations were found between preoperative LSTOA and preoperative TL/L Cobb angle in the nonselective (r=0.7; P<0.001) and selective (r=0.5; P<0.001) fusion groups. Mean two-year postoperative coronal TL/L Cobb angles were significantly improved in nonselective and selective fusion groups (32° and 20°, respectively, P<0.001). In the nonselective fusion group, LSTOA significantly decreased by 11° (P<0.001), and in the selective group, the LSTOA had a modest but significant decrease of 2° (P<0.001). The nonselective fusion also resulted in more lordosis between T10 and L2 (7.5° of lordosis) than the selective approach (2.7° kyphosis, P<0.001). For both groups, upper thoracic kyphosis increased after surgery (P<0.001, P<0.001). For nonselective fusions, regression modeling predicted TL/L Cobb angle at two-year follow-up based on preoperative TL/L Cobb angle and preoperative LSTOA (r=0.4, P<0.001).


Collectively, these data demonstrate the preoperative TL/L Cobb angle and LSTOA can be useful predictors of postoperative TL/L Cobb angle after a selective instrumented fusion. Analyses of distal fixation levels demonstrated that to appreciably change the LSTOA using a posterior instrumented fusion, the distal level of fixation must be beyond the lumbar apex.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Abel, Mark F, Stephanie K Herndon, Lindsay D Sauer, Wendy M Novicoff, Justin S Smith, Christopher I Shaffrey and undefined Spinal Deformity Study Group (2011). Selective versus nonselective fusion for idiopathic scoliosis: does lumbosacral takeoff angle change?. Spine, 36(14). pp. 1103–1112. 10.1097/brs.0b013e3181f60b5b Retrieved from

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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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