Can posterior-only surgery provide similar radiographic and clinical results as combined anterior (thoracotomy/thoracoabdominal)/posterior approaches for adult scoliosis?

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2010 Jan 15;35(2):210-8. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e3181c91163.


Study design: Retrospective matched cohort analysis.

Objective: To determine if posterior-only (post-only) surgical techniques consisting of pedicle screws, osteotomies, transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion, and bone morphogenetic protein-2 may provide similar results as compared anterior (thoracotomy/thoracoabdominal)/posterior surgical approaches for the treatment of adult spinal deformity with respect to correction, fusion rates, or outcomes.

Summary of background data: Combined anterior/posterior (A/P) fusion has traditionally been used to treat many adult scoliosis deformities. Anterior approaches negatively impact pulmonary function and require additional operative time and anesthesia.

Methods: Twenty-four patients who had A/P fusion for primary adult scoliosis (16 staged, 8 same-day) were matched with a cohort of 24 patients who had post-only treatment. Anterior fusion was performed via a thoracotomy (n = 1)/thoracoabdominal (n = 23) approach. All post-only surgeries were under one anesthesia. Minimum 2-year follow-up included radiographic, clinical, and outcomes data.

Results: There were no significant differences between groups for age, gender, diagnosis, comorbidities, preoperative curve magnitudes, or global balance. Postoperative radiographic correction and alignment were similar for both groups except for thoracolumbar curve percent improvement which was statistically better in the post-only group (P = 0.03). The average surgical time was higher in A/P versus post-only group (11.6 vs. 6.9 hours, P < 0.0001) as was total estimated blood loss (1330 vs. 980 mL, P = 0.04). Hospital length of stay (LOS) was longer in A/P versus post-only group (11.9 vs. 8.3 days, P = 0.03). There were no significant differences between postoperative complications. Revision surgery was performed in 5 A/P and 2 post-only patients. Higher pseudarthrosis rates found in the A/P versus post-only (17 vs. 0%) were not significant (P = 0.11). SRS-30 and Oswestry scores reflected a similar patient assessment before surgery, and improvement between groups at follow-up.

Conclusion: Post-only adult scoliosis surgery achieved similar correction to A/P surgery while decreasing blood loss, operative time, length of stay, and avoiding additional anesthesia. Complications, radiographic, and clinical outcomes were similar at over 2-year follow-up.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Loss, Surgical
  • Bone Screws
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Radiography
  • Reoperation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Scoliosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Scoliosis / surgery*
  • Spinal Fusion / adverse effects
  • Spinal Fusion / instrumentation
  • Spinal Fusion / methods*
  • Spine / diagnostic imaging
  • Spine / surgery*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Venous Thrombosis / etiology