Purpose: Reciprocal mechanisms for standing alignment have been described in thoraco-lumbar deformity but have not been studied in patients with primary cervical deformity (CD). The purpose of this study is to report upper- and infra-cervical sagittal compensatory mechanisms in patients with CD and evaluate their changes post-operatively. Methods: Global spinal alignment was studied in a prospective database of operative CD patients. Inclusion criteria were any of the following: cervical kyphosis (CK) > 10°, cervical scoliosis > 10°, cSVA (C2–C7 Sagittal vertical axis) > 4 cm or CBVA (Chin Brow Vertical Angle) > 25°. For this study, patients who had previous fusion outside C2 to T4 segments were excluded. Patients were sub-classified by increasing severity of cervical kyphosis [CL (cervical lordosis): < 0°, CK-low 0°–10°, CK-high > 10°] and cSVA (cSVA-low 0–4 cm, cSVA-mid 4–6 cm, cSVA-high > 6 cm) and were compared for pre- and 3-month post-operative regional and global sagittal alignment to determine compensatory recruitment. Results: 75 CD patients (mean age 61.3 years, 56% women) were included. Patients with progressively larger CK had a progressive increase in C0–C2 (CL = 34°, CK-low = 37°, CK-high = 44°, p = 0.004), C2Slope and T1Slope-CL (p < 0.05). As the cSVA increased, there was progressive increase in C2Slope, T1Slope and TS-CL (p < 0.05) and patients compensated through increasing C0–C2 (cSVA-low = 33°, cSVA-mid = 40°, cSVA-high = 43°, p = 0.007) and pelvic tilt (cSVA-low = 14.9°, cSVA-mid = 24.1°, cSVA-high = 24.9°, p = 0.02). At 3 months post-op, with significant improvement in cervical alignment, there was relaxation of C0–C2 (39°–35°, p = 0.01) which positively correlated with magnitude of deformity correction. Conclusions: Patients with cervical malalignment compensate with upper cervical hyper-lordosis, presumably for the maintenance of horizontal gaze. As cSVA increases, patients also tend to exhibit increased pelvic retroversion. Following surgical treatment, there was relaxation of upper cervical compensation.
- Cervical deformity
- Horizontal gaze
- Upper cervical lordosis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine