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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

CT and radiographic analysis of sagittal profile changes following thoracoscopic anterior scoliosis surgery

Maree T Izatt*, Clayton J Adam, Eugene J Verzin, Robert D Labrom and Geoffrey N Askin

Author Affiliations

Paediatric Spine Research Group, Queensland University of Technology and Mater Health Services Brisbane Ltd, Queensland, Australia

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Scoliosis 2012, 7:15  doi:10.1186/1748-7161-7-15

Published: 22 August 2012

Abstract

Background

Previous studies report an increase in thoracic kyphosis after anterior approaches and a flattening of sagittal contours following posterior approaches. Difficulties with measuring sagittal parameters on radiographs are avoided with reformatted sagittal CT reconstructions due to the superior endplate clarity afforded by this imaging modality.

Methods

A prospective study of 30 Lenke 1 adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) patients receiving selective thoracoscopic anterior spinal fusion (TASF) was performed. Participants had ethically approved low dose CT scans at minimum 24 months after surgery in addition to their standard care following surgery. The change in sagittal contours on supine CT was compared to standing radiographic measurements of the same patients and with previous studies. Inter-observer variability was assessed as well as whether hypokyphotic and normokyphotic patient groups responded differently to the thoracoscopic anterior approach.

Results

Mean T5-12 kyphosis Cobb angle increased by 11.8 degrees and lumbar lordosis increased by 5.9 degrees on standing radiographs two years after surgery. By comparison, CT measurements of kyphosis and lordosis increased by 12.3 degrees and 7.0 degrees respectively. 95% confidence intervals for inter-observer variability of sagittal contour measurements on supine CT ranged between 5-8 degrees. TASF had a slightly greater corrective effect on patients who were hypokyphotic before surgery compared with those who were normokyphotic.

Conclusions

Restoration of sagittal profile is an important goal of scoliosis surgery, but reliable measurement with radiographs suffers from poor endplate clarity. TASF significantly improves thoracic kyphosis and lumbar lordosis while preserving proximal and distal junctional alignment in thoracic AIS patients. Supine CT allows greater endplate clarity for sagittal Cobb measurements and linear relationships were found between supine CT and standing radiographic measurements. In this study, improvements in sagittal kyphosis and lordosis following surgery were in agreement with prior anterior surgery studies, and add to the current evidence suggesting that anterior correction is more capable than posterior approaches of addressing the sagittal component of both the instrumented and adjacent non instrumented segments following surgical correction of progressive Lenke 1 idiopathic scoliosis.

Keywords:
Thoracoscopic anterior spinal fusion; Anterior spinal fusion; Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis; Sagittal profile; Computed tomography (CT); Thoracic kyphosis; Lumbar lordosis