Open Access Open Badges Case Report

Proximal junctional vertebral fracture-subluxation after adult spine deformity surgery. Does vertebral augmentation avoid this complication? A case report

Nicomedes Fernández-Baíllo, José Miguel Sánchez Márquez*, Francisco Javier Sánchez Pérez-Grueso and Alfredo García Fernández

Author Affiliations

Orthopedic Surgery Department, Spine Service, La Paz University Hospital, Paseo de la Castellana, 261, 28046, Madrid, Spain

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Scoliosis 2012, 7:16  doi:10.1186/1748-7161-7-16

Published: 4 September 2012



To report to the orthopedic community a case of vertebral fracture and adjacent vertebral subluxation through the upper instrumented vertebra after thoracolumbar fusion with augmentation of the cranial level.


This report reviewed the patient`s medical record, her imaging studies and related literature. The possible factors contributing to this fracture are hypothesized.


A 70-year-old woman underwent decompressive surgery and posterolateral fusion for adult lumbar scoliosis. We used pedicular screws from T10 to S1 and iliac screw at the right side, augmented with cement at T10, T11, L1, L5 and S1; and prophylactic vertebroplasty at T9 to avoid the "topping-off syndrome".

Thirty days after discharge, without recognizable inciting trauma, the patient complained of pain in the lower thoracic area. The exam revealed overall neurological deficit below the level of fracture.

CT scan and MRI demonstrated a T10 vertebral collapse and T9 vertebral subluxation with morphologic features of flexion-distraction fracture through the upper edge of the screw.

At this point, the authors performed posterior decompression at T9 to T10 and extended posterolateral arthrodesis from T2 to T10.

To our knowledge, this is an unreported fracture.


Augmentation of the cranial level in a long thoracolumbar fusion has been developed to avoid the junctional kyphosis and compression fractures at that level. We alert the orthopedic community that this augmentation may lead to further and more severe fractures, although this opinion requires investigation for confirmation.

Adult deformity; Proximal junctional fracture; Vertebroplasty