How Does Gravity Influence the Distribution of Lordosis in Patients With Sagittal Malalignment?

Mitchell S. Fourman, Renaud Lafage, Francis Lovecchio, Basel Sheikh Alshabab, Sachiin Shah, Ananth Punyala, Bryan Ang, Jonathan Elysee, Lawrence G. Lenke, Han Jo Kim, Frank Schwab, Virginie Lafage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Study Design: Retrospective cohort study. Objective: Compare the supine vs standing radiographs of patients with adult spinal deformity against ideals defined by healthy standing alignment. Methods: 56 patients with primary sagittal ASD (SRS-Schwab Type N) and 119 asymptomatic volunteers were included. Standing alignment of asymptomatic volunteers was used to calculate PI-based formulas for normative age-adjusted standing PI–LL, L4–S1, and L1–L4. These formulas were applied to the supine and standing alignment of ASD cohort. Analyses were repeated on a cohort of 25 patients with at least 5 degrees of lumbar flexibility (difference between supine and standing lordosis). Results: The asymptomatic cohort yielded the following PI-based formulas: PI–LL = −38.3 +.41*PI +.21*Age, L4–S1 = 45.3–.18*Age, L1–L4 = −3 +.48*PI). PI–LL improved with supine positioning (mean 8.9 ± 18.7°, P <.001), though not enough to correct to age-matched norms (mean offset 12.2 ± 16.9°). Compared with mean normative alignment at L1–L4 (22.1 ± 6.2°), L1–L4 was flatter on standing (7.2 ± 17.0°, P <.001) and supine imaging (8.5 ± 15.0°, P <.001). L4-S1 lordosis of subjects with L1-S1 flexibility >5° corrected on supine imaging (33.9 ± 11.1°, P = 1.000), but L1–L4 did not (23.0 ± 6.2° norm vs 2.2 ± 14.4° standing, P <.001; vs 7.3 ± 12.9° supine, P <.001). Conclusions: When the effects of gravity are removed, the distal portion of the lumbar spine (i.e., below the apex of lordosis) corrects, suggesting that structural lumbar deformity is primarily proximal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2446-2453
Number of pages8
JournalGlobal Spine Journal
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 2023
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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