Impact of Spinopelvic sagittal alignment on the surgical outcomes of dropped head syndrome: a multi-center study

BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2020 Jun 15;21(1):382. doi: 10.1186/s12891-020-03416-w.


Background: Most of the previous studies about the surgical treatment of dropped head syndrome (DHS) are small case series, and their primary outcome measures were cervical alignment parameters. Therefore, little is known about the associations between pre- and postoperative global sagittal alignment in the whole spine and the clinical outcomes of the surgical treatment of DHS. In this study, we investigated the surgical outcomes of DHS, including correction of cervical and global spinal sagittal alignment.

Methods: This study was a retrospective observational study. Fifteen patients with DHS who had undergone correction surgery were enrolled. Surgical outcomes, including complications and implant failures, were investigated. We assessed cervical alignment parameters as well as spinopelvic global alignment parameters, including pelvic incidence (PI), lumbar lordosis (LL), and C7-sacral sagittal vertical axis (SVA). We examined the changes in these parameters using pre- and posoperative whole spine lateral radiographs. The parameters were compared between the failure and nonfailure groups.

Results: Recurrence of sagittal imbalance and horizontal gaze difficulty was observed in 6 cases (40%). In all, 3 cases (20%) exhibited a distal junctional failure and required multiple surgeries with extension of fusion. Of all the radiographic parameters compared between the failure and nonfailure groups, significant differences were only observed in pre and postoperative SVA and PI-LL.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that the global sagittal alignment parameters, including PI-LL and SVA, were different between the patients with failure and non failure, and these parameters might have notable impacts on surgical outcomes. Surgeons should consider PI-LL and SVA while determining the surgical course for patients with DHS.

Keywords: Chin-on-chest deformity; Compensatory function; Dropped head syndrome; Sagittal vertical axis; Spinopelvic sagittal alignment; Surgical outcome.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Head Movements
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Weakness / diagnostic imaging
  • Muscle Weakness / pathology
  • Muscle Weakness / surgery*
  • Postoperative Complications / diagnostic imaging
  • Radiography
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Curvatures / diagnostic imaging
  • Spinal Curvatures / pathology
  • Spinal Curvatures / surgery*
  • Spinal Fusion / adverse effects*
  • Spinal Fusion / methods
  • Spine / diagnostic imaging
  • Spine / pathology
  • Spine / surgery*
  • Syndrome
  • Treatment Outcome