Intraoperative alignment goals for distinctive sagittal morphotypes of severe cervical deformity to achieve optimal improvements in health-related quality of life measures.


BACKGROUND CONTEXT:Patients with severe cervical deformity (CD) often have profound deficits in numerous activities of daily living. The association between health status and post-operative radiographic goals is difficult to quantify. PURPOSE:We aimed to investigate the radiographic characteristics of patients who achieved optimal health related quality of life scores following surgery for CD. STUDY DESIGN:We performed a retrospective review of a prospectively collected database of patients with spinal deformity. PATIENT SAMPLE:One hundred and fifty-three patients with cervical deformity OUTCOME MEASURES: Common health-related quality of life scores (HRQOLs) measurements were taken for patients treated operatively for cervical deformity including neck disability index (NDI), modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association scale (mJOA) for myelopathy and numeric rating scale for neck pain (NRS-neck), METHODS: Surgical patients with severe (can you define severe?) CD were isolated based upon a previously presented discriminant analysis which outlined a combination of preoperative cervical sagittal vertical axis (cSVA), T1 slope, maximum focal kyphosis in extension, C2 slope in extension, and number of kyphotic levels in extension. Those with available preoperative and 1-year postoperative HRQL data were included. Based on a previous study, patients were grouped into 3 distinct sagittal morphotypes of CD: focal deformity (FD), flatneck (FN=large TS-CL and lack of compensation), or cervicothoracic (CT). Post-operative outcomes were defined as "good" if a patient had ≥2 of the 3 following criteria (1) NDI <20 or meeting MCID, (2) mild myelopathy (mJOA≥14), and (3) NRS-Neck ≤5 or improved by ≥2 points from baseline. Within each distinct deformity group, patients with good outcomes were compared to those with poor outcomes (i.e. not meeting the criteria for good) for differences in demographics, HRQL scores, and alignment, via Chi-squared or student's t-tests. RESULTS:Overall, 83 of 153 patients met the criteria of severe CD and 40 patients had complete 1-year follow-up of clinical/radiographic data. Patient breakdown by deformity pattern was: CT (N=13), FN (N=17), and FD (N=17), with 7 patients meeting criteria for both FD and FN deformities. Within the FD cohort, maximal focal kyphosis (i.e. kyphosis at one level) was better corrected in patients with a "good" outcome (p = 0.03). In the FN cohort, patients with "good" outcomes presented pre-operatively with worse horizontal gaze (McGregor Slope 21° vs 6°, p=0.061) and cSVA (72mm vs 60mm, p=0.030). "Good" outcome FN patients showed significantly greater postop correction of horizontal gaze (-25° vs -5°, p = 0.031). In the CT cohort, patients with "good" outcomes had superior global alignment both pre- (SVA: -17mm vs 108mm, p <0.001) and post-operatively (50mm vs 145mm, p=0.001). CT patients with "good" outcomes also had better postop cervical alignment (cSVA 35mm vs 49mm, p=0.030), and less kyphotic segments during extension (p=0.011). In the FD cohort, there were no differences between "good" and "poor" outcomes patients in preoperative alignment; however, "good" outcome patients showed superior changes in postoperative focal kyphosis (-2° vs 5°, p=0.030). Within all three deformity pattern categories, there were no differences between "good" and "poor" outcome patients with respect to demographics or surgical parameters (levels fused, surgical approach, decompression, osteotomy, all p>0.050). CONCLUSIONS:The results of this study show each CD patient's unique deformity must be carefully examined in order to determine the appropriate alignment goals to achieve optimal HRQOLs. In particular, the recognition of the sagittal morphotype can help assist surgeons to aim for specific alignment goals for CT, FN and FD. Distinct deformity specific intra-operative goals include obtaining proper sagittal global/cervical alignment for cervicothoracic patients, correcting maximal focal kyphosis in focal deformity patients, and correcting horizontal gaze for flatneck patients.





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Publication Info

Virk, Sohrab, Peter Passias, Renaud Lafage, Eric Klineberg, Gregory Mundis, Themistocles Protopsaltis, Christopher Shaffrey, Shay Bess, et al. (2020). Intraoperative alignment goals for distinctive sagittal morphotypes of severe cervical deformity to achieve optimal improvements in health-related quality of life measures. The spine journal : official journal of the North American Spine Society. 10.1016/j.spinee.2020.03.014 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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