Cervical radiographical alignment: comprehensive assessment techniques and potential importance in cervical myelopathy.


Study design

Narrative review.


To provide a comprehensive narrative review of cervical alignment parameters, the methods for quantifying cervical alignment, normal cervical alignment values, and how alignment is associated with cervical deformity and myelopathy with discussions of health-related quality of life.

Summary of background data

Indications for surgery to correct cervical alignment are not well-defined and there is no set standard to address the amount of correction to be achieved. In addition, classifications of cervical deformity have yet to be fully established and treatment options defined and clarified.


A survey of the cervical spine literature was conducted.


New normative cervical alignment values from an asymptomatic volunteer population are introduced, updated methods for quantifying cervical alignment are discussed, and describing the relationship between cervical alignment, disability, and myelopathy are outlined. Specifically, methods used to quantify cervical alignment include cervical lordosis, cervical sagittal vertical axis, and horizontal gaze with the chin-brow vertical angle. Updated methods include T1 slope. Evidence from a few recent studies suggests correlations between radiographical parameters in the cervical spine and health-related quality of life. Analysis of the cervical regional alignment with respect to overall spinal pelvic alignment is emerging and critical. Cervical myelopathy and sagittal alignment of the cervical spine are closely related as cervical deformity can lead to spinal cord compression and tension.


Cervical deformity correction should take on a comprehensive approach in assessing global cervical-pelvic relationships and the radiographical parameters that effect health-related quality of life scores are not well-defined. Cervical alignment may be important in assessment and treatment of cervical myelopathy. Future work should concentrate on correlation of cervical alignment parameters to disability scores and myelopathy outcomes. SUMMARY STATEMENTS: STATEMENT 1: Cervical sagittal alignment (cervical SVA and kyphosis) is related to thoracolumbar spinal pelvic alignment and to T1 slope. STATEMENT 2: When significant deformity is clinically or radiographically suspected, regional cervical and relative global spinal alignment should be evaluated preoperatively via standing 3-foot scoliosis X-rays for appropriate operative planning. STATEMENT 3: Cervical sagittal alignment (C2-C7 SVA) is correlated to regional disability, general health scores and to myelopathy severity. STATEMENT 4: When performing decompressive surgery for CSM, consideration should be given to correction of cervical kyphosis and cervical sagittal imbalance (C2-C7 SVA) when present.


Journal article





Cervical Vertebrae, Humans, Kyphosis, Lordosis, Spinal Cord Diseases, Radiography, Treatment Outcome, Quality of Life, Models, Anatomic


Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Ames, Christopher P, Benjamin Blondel, Justin K Scheer, Frank J Schwab, Jean-Charles Le Huec, Eric M Massicotte, Alpesh A Patel, Vincent C Traynelis, et al. (2013). Cervical radiographical alignment: comprehensive assessment techniques and potential importance in cervical myelopathy. Spine, 38(22 Suppl 1). pp. S149–S160. 10.1097/brs.0b013e3182a7f449 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/28818.

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