Including the stable sagittal vertebra in the fusion for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis reduces the risk of distal junctional kyphosis in Lenke 1-3 B and C curves

Spine Deform. 2021 May;9(3):733-741. doi: 10.1007/s43390-020-00259-2. Epub 2021 Jan 5.


Purpose: The selection of lowest instrumented vertebra (LIV) in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) is determined by coronal and sagittal plane indicators. Failure to properly select the LIV can lead to suboptimal outcomes and the need for revision surgery. A subset of patients have discordant coronal last touched vertebra (cLTV) and stable sagittal vertebra (SSV) which complicates the choice of LIV. The purpose of this study is to report the incidence of discordant cLTV and SSV when choosing LIV and investigate the association between length of fusion and patient-reported outcomes (PROs) and distal junctional kyphosis (DJK).

Methods: This retrospective multicenter cohort study included AIS patients with discordant pre-operative cLTV and SSV. Patients fused only to include the proximal cLTV were compared to patients fused to include the distal SSV. Primary outcomes included DJK and PROs measured by SRS-22.

Results: Eight hundred and fifty-six patients were identified of which 114 (13.3%) had discordant SSV and cLTV. The DJK incidence was 7.7% and 45.5% in patients fused to include the SSV versus short of the SSV, respectively. Lenke Modifier type B and C patients with fusions short of the SSV had a 9.2 times increased risk of developing DJK at 2 years compared to patients with fusions including the SSV (95% CI 2.8, 29.7; p < 0.001). However, patients with fusions short of the SSV and no evidence of DJK were 9.2 times more likely to have improvement in the SRS-22 pain domain compared to patients with fusions including the distal SSV (95% CI 1.1, 77.4; p = 0.042) CONCLUSION: Patients fused short of the SSV are at significant risk for the development of DJK at 2 years post-operatively. However, patients with shorter fusions were more likely to have an improvement in their pain as measured by patient-reported outcomes than patients with longer fusions.

Keywords: Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis; Distal junctional kyphosis; Posterior spinal fusion; Stable sagittal vertebra.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Kyphosis* / diagnostic imaging
  • Kyphosis* / surgery
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Scoliosis* / diagnostic imaging
  • Scoliosis* / surgery
  • Spinal Fusion* / adverse effects
  • Thoracic Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Thoracic Vertebrae / surgery