Adult Spinal Deformity Knowledge in Orthopedic Spine Surgeons: Impact of Fellowship Training, Experience, and Practice Characteristics

Spine Deform. 2018 Jan;6(1):60-66. doi: 10.1016/j.jspd.2017.06.003.


Study design: Survey study.

Objective: The purpose of this paper was to assess the level of adult spine deformity (ASD) knowledge among orthopedic spine surgeons and identify areas for improvement in spine surgery training.

Summary of background data: ASD is increasingly encountered in spine surgery practice. While ASD knowledge among neurosurgeons has been evaluated, ASD knowledge among orthopedic spine surgeons has not previously been reported.

Methods: A survey of orthopedic spine surgeon members of North American Spine Society (NASS) was conducted to assess level of spine surgery training, practice experience, and spinal deformity knowledge base. The survey used was previously completed by a group of neurologic surgeons with published results. The survey used 11 questions developed and agreed upon by experienced spinal deformity surgeons.

Results: Complete responses were received from 413 orthopedic spine surgeons. The overall correct-answer rate was 69.0%. Surgeons in practice for less than 10 years had a higher correct-answer rate compared to those who have practiced for 10 years or more (74% vs. 67%; p = .000003). Surgeons with 75% or more of their practice dedicated to spine had a higher overall correct rate compared to surgeons whose practice is less than 75% spine (71% vs. 63%; p = .000029). Completion of spine fellowship was associated with a higher overall correct-answer rate compared to respondents who did not complete a spine fellowship (71% vs. 59%; p < .00001).

Conclusions: Completion of spine fellowship and having a dedicated spine surgery practice were significantly associated with improved performance on this ASD knowledge survey. Unlike neurosurgeons, orthopedic spine surgeons who have practiced for less than 10 years performed better than those who have practiced for more than 10 years. Ongoing emphasis on spine deformity education should be emphasized to improve adult spinal deformity knowledge base.

Keywords: Knowledge base; Sducation; Spine deformity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Competence
  • Fellowships and Scholarships / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Orthopedic Surgeons / education
  • Orthopedic Surgeons / psychology*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Spinal Curvatures / psychology*
  • Spinal Curvatures / surgery
  • Surveys and Questionnaires