Proximal junctional kyphosis in primary adult deformity surgery: Evaluation of 20 degrees as a critical angle

Keith H. Bridwell, Lawrence G. Lenke, Samuel K. Cho, Joshua M. Pahys, Lukas P. Zebala, Ian G. Dorward, Woojin Cho, Christine Baldus, Brian W. Hill, Matthew M. Kang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

190 Scopus citations


Background: Multiple studies have reported on the prevalence of proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK) following spinal deformity surgery; however, none have demonstrated its significance with respect to functional outcome scores or revision surgery. Objective: To evaluate if 20 is a possible critical PJK angle in primary adult scoliosis surgery patients as a threshold for worse patient-reported outcomes. Methods: Clinical and radiographic data of 90 consecutive primary surgical patients at a single institution (2002-2007) with adult idiopathic/degenerative scoliosis and 2-year minimum follow-up were analyzed. Assessment included radiographic measurements, but most notably sagittal Cobb angle of the proximal junctional angle at preoperation, between 1 and 2 months, 2 years, and ultimate follow-up. Results: Prevalence of PJK ≥20° at 3.5 years was 27.8% (n = 25). Those with PJK ≥20° at ultimate follow-up were older (mean 56 vs 46 years), had lower number of levels fused (median 8 vs 11), and were proximally fused to the lower thoracic spine more often than upper thoracic spine (all P < .001). PJK ≥20° was associated with significantly higher body mass index and fusion to the sacrum with iliac screws (P < .016, P < .029, respectively). Scoliosis Research Society outcome score changes were lower for PJK patients, but not significantly different from those in the non-PJK group. Conclusion: PJK ≥20° in primary adult idiopathic/degenerative scoliosis does not lead to revision surgery for PJK, but is univariately associated with older age, shorter constructs starting in the lower thoracic spine, obesity, and fusion to the sacrum. The negative results, supported by Scoliosis Research Society outcome data, provide important guidance on the postoperative management of such PJK patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)899-906
Number of pages8
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Adult
  • Outcome
  • Primary
  • Proximal junctional kyphosis
  • Spinal deformity
  • Surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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