Paraspinal muscle size as an independent risk factor for proximal junctional kyphosis in patients undergoing thoracolumbar fusion

Zach Pennington, Ethan Cottrill, A. Karim Ahmed, Peter Passias, Themistocles Protopsaltis, Brian Neuman, Khaled M. Kebaish, Jeff Ehresman, Erick M. Westbroek, Matthew L. Goodwin, Daniel M. Sciubba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: Proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK) is a structural complication of spinal fusion in 5%.61% of patients treated for adult spinal deformity. In nearly one-third of these cases, PJK is progressive and requires costly surgical revision. Previous studies have suggested that patient body habitus may predict risk for PJK. Here, the authors sought to investigate abdominal girth and paraspinal muscle size as risk factors for PJK. Methods: All patients undergoing thoracolumbosacral fusion greater than 2 levels at a single institution over a 5-year period with ≥ 6 months of radiographic follow-up were considered for inclusion. PJK was defined as kyphosis ≥ 20° between the upper instrumented vertebra (UIV) and two supra-adjacent vertebrae. Operative and radiographic parameters were recorded, including pre- and postoperative sagittal vertical axis (SVA), sacral slope (SS), lumbar lordosis (LL), pelvic tilt, pelvic incidence (PI), and absolute value of the pelvic incidence.lumbar lordosis mismatch (|PI-LL|), as well as changes in LL, |PI-LL|, and SVA. The authors also considered relative abdominal girth and the size of the paraspinal muscles at the UIV. Results: One hundred sixty-nine patients met inclusion criteria. On univariate analysis, PJK was associated with a larger preoperative SVA (p < 0.001) and |PI-LL| (p = 0.01), and smaller SS (p = 0.004) and LL (p = 0.001). PJK was also associated with more positive postoperative SVA (p = 0.01), ΔSVA (p = 0.01), Δ|PI-LL| (p < 0.001), and ΔLL (p < 0.001); longer construct length (p = 0.005); larger abdominal ratio (p = 0.007); and smaller paraspinal muscles at the UIV (p < 0.001). Higher postoperative SVA (OR 1.1 per cm), smaller paraspinal muscles at the UIV (OR 2.11), and more aggressive reduction in |PI-LL| (OR 1.03) were independent predictors of radiographic PJK on multivariate logistic regression. Conclusions: A more positive postoperative global sagittal alignment and smaller paraspinal musculature at the UIV most strongly predicted PJK following thoracolumbosacral fusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)380-388
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Spine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019


  • Adjacent-segment disease
  • Adult spinal deformity
  • Body morphometry
  • Obesity
  • Proximal junctional kyphosis
  • Sagittal balance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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