Compensation from mild and severe cases of early proximal junctional kyphosis may manifest as progressive cervical deformity at two year follow-up

Spine Deform. 2024 Jan;12(1):221-229. doi: 10.1007/s43390-023-00763-1. Epub 2023 Dec 2.


Background: Postoperative reciprocal changes (RC) in the cervical spine associated with varying factors of proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK) following fusions of the thoracopelvic spine are poorly understood.

Purpose: Explore reciprocal changes in the cervical spine associated with varying factors (severity, progression, patient age) of PJK in patients undergoing adult spinal deformity (ASD) correction.

Patients and methods: Retrospective review of a multicenter ASD database.

Inclusion: ASD patients > 18 y/o, undergoing fusions from the thoracic spine (UIV: T6-T12) to the pelvis with two-year radiographic data. ASD was defined as: Coronal Cobb angle ≥ 20°, Sagittal Vertical Axis ≥ 5 cm, Pelvic Tilt ≥ 25°, and/or Thoracic Kyphosis ≥ 60°. PJK was defined as a ≥ 10° measure of the sagittal Cobb angle between the inferior endplate of the UIV and the superior endplate of the UIV + 2. Patients were grouped by mild (M; 10°-20°) and severe (S; > 20°) PJK at one year. Propensity Score Matching (PSM) controlled for CCI, age, PI and UIV. Unpaired and paired t test analyses determined difference between RC parameters and change between time points. Pearson bi-variate correlations analyzed associations between RC parameters (T4-T12, TS-CL, cSVA, C2-Slope, and T1-Slope) and PJK descriptors.

Results: 284 ASD patients (UIV: T6: 1.1%; T7: 0.7%; T8: 4.6%; T9: 9.9%; T10: 58.8%; T11: 19.4%; T12: 5.6%) were studied. PJK analysis consisted of 182 patients (Mild = 91 and Severe = 91). Significant difference between M and S groups were observed in T4-T12 Δ1Y(- 16.8 v - 22.8, P = 0.001), TS-CLΔ1Y(- 0.6 v 2.8, P = 0.037), cSVAΔ1Y(- 1.8 v 1.9, P = 0.032), and C2 slopeΔ1Y(- 1.6 v 2.3, P = 0.022). By two years post-op, all changes in cervical alignment parameters were similar between mild and severe groups. Correlation between age and cSVAΔ1Y(R = 0.153, P = 0.034) was found. Incidence of severe PJK was found to correlate with TS-CLΔ1Y(R = 0.142, P = 0.049), cSVAΔ1Y(R = 0.171, P = 0.018), C2SΔ1Y(R = 0.148, P = 0.040), and T1SΔ2Y(R = 0.256, P = 0.003).

Conclusions: Compensation within the cervical spine differed between individuals with mild and severe PJK at one year postoperatively. However, similar levels of pathologic change in cervical alignment parameters were seen by two years, highlighting the progression of cervical compensation due to mild PJK over time. These findings provide greater evidence for the development of cervical deformity in individuals presenting with proximal junctional kyphosis.

Keywords: Alignment; Complications; Deformity; Mechanical; Reciprocal.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cervical Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Cervical Vertebrae / surgery
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Kyphosis* / etiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thoracic Vertebrae* / diagnostic imaging
  • Thoracic Vertebrae* / pathology
  • Thoracic Vertebrae* / surgery