Thoracic adolescent idiopathic scoliosis curves between 70 degrees and 100 degrees: is anterior release necessary?

Scott J Luhmann, Lawrence G Lenke, Yongjung J Kim, Keith H Bridwell, Mario Schootman
Spine 2005 September 15, 30 (18): 2061-7

STUDY DESIGN: A retrospective review of adolescents with main thoracic scoliotic curves surgically treated with either anterior release and posterior fusion or posterior fusion only.

OBJECTIVES: To compare the radiographic and clinical outcomes of two surgical treatments: anterior-posterior spinal fusion (APSF) versus posterior spinal fusion (PSF) alone in patients with large 70 degrees to 100 degrees thoracic adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) curves.

SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: Surgical treatment of thoracic AIS curves between 70 degrees and 100 degrees often consists of anterior and posterior fusion to improve the coronal correction and fusion rate, with the anterior release and fusion performed through either an open thoracotomy or by video-assisted thoracoscopy.

METHODS: All patients (n = 84) with main thoracic major AIS curves between 70 degrees and 100 degrees who underwent spinal fusion (APSF or PSF) at one center between 1987 and 2001 were included for analysis. The minimum follow-up was 2 years after surgery (mean, 4.5 years; range, 2.0-10.2 years). The mean age of patients was 13.8 years (range, 10.7-18.2 years), with 66 females and 18 males. Multiple radiographic measures were assessed. The primary and secondary statistical analyses performed were nonparametric analyses, using the Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney tests for the primary analysis of APSF and PSF groups. The PSF subgroup analysis was performed with the Kruskal-Wallis test.

RESULTS: There were 22 patients in the APSF (open ASF in 18, and video-assisted thoracoscopy in 4) group and 62 patients in the PSF group. There were no statistically significant differences between the groups for gender, age, number of levels fused, Cobb measurement of preoperative coronal or sagittal thoracic curve magnitude, or coronal curve flexibility. The APSF group, when compared with the PSF group, had greater intraoperative correction of the coronal curve (48.3 degrees vs. 38.7 degrees, P = 0.0087) as well as final overall correction (47.2 degrees vs. 34.2 degrees, P = 0.0008). There were no significant differences seen in the sagittal alignment from T5-T12 (P = 0.3150) or the SRS outcomes data between the APSF and PSF only groups. Subanalysis of the PSF only group identified three distinct groups based on implants: hook-only constructs (n = 36), hybrid constructs of proximal hooks and distal pedicle screws (n = 15), and pedicle screw-only constructs (n = 11). Pedicle screw-only constructs corrected the coronal Cobb measurements more than the other two groups (47.5 degrees vs. hooks 37.7 degrees vs. hybrid 34.4 degrees , P = 0.0110), and to a similar extent as to the APSF group with no statistically significant difference in coronal correction (PSF, 47.5 degrees; APSF 48.3 degrees; P = 0.9014), nor any other parameter except for sagittal T5-T12 changes. There were no reoperations for implant failure/pseudarthroses in any of the patients.

CONCLUSION: APSF of large thoracic curves allows greater coronal correction of thoracic curves between 70 degrees and 100 degrees, when compared with PSF alone using thoracic hook constructs, but not with the use of thoracic pedicle screw constructs. Scoliosis surgeons not using pedicle screw constructs need to decide if the modest improvement in coronal correction with a combined approach justifies its routine use in this patient population.

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