Disc Degeneration in Unfused Caudal Motion Segments Ten Years Following Surgery for Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis

Baron S. Lonner, Yuan Ren, Vidyadhar V. Upasani, Michelle M. Marks, Peter O. Newton, Amer F. Samdani, Karen Chen, Harry L. Shufflebarger, Suken A. Shah, Daniel R. Lefton, Hussein Nasser, Colin T. Dabrowski, Randal R. Betz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Hypothesis: The frequency of disc degeneration (DD) in the distal mobile segments will increase over time following surgery for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS). Design: Retrospective review of a prospective AIS registry. Introduction: Durability of surgical outcomes is essential for maintenance of quality of life as well as for family decision making and for assessment of the value of a healthcare intervention. We assessed DD, its risk factors, and association with health-related quality of life 10 years after AIS surgery. Methods: Five radiographic indicators of DD, previously validated, were evaluated preoperatively and 1 month, 2, 5, and 10 years postoperatively by a radiologist in operative AIS patients. A composite radiographic score (CRS; range 0-10) was calculated using the sum of each of the DD indicators. The severity of CRS in relation to the time point after surgery and various risk factors were assessed using linear regression or Pearson χ2 test. CRS ≥3 was chosen to indicate significant DD. Association of CRS with SRS-22 outcome was evaluated by linear regression. Results: 193 consecutive patients (mean age at surgery 14.4 years; 86% female) were assessed. Surgical approach included 102 posterior and 91 anterior fusions. Contributors to maximum CRS at 10 years were Schmorl's nodes (7.3% of patients), osteophytes (40.4%), sclerosis (29%), and irregular endplate (8.3%). CRS ≥3 occurred in 1.6%, 0.54%, 3.7%, 6.8%, and 7.3% of patients at the various time points (r2=0.83, p=.0313), respectively. More than 50% of DD occurred at the second (35.5%) and third (20%) disc caudal to the LIV. LIV of L4 compared with more cephalad LIV had the highest risk of developing significant DD (27.3%; p=.0267). It was found that disc wedging subjacent to the LIV (≥5°) and LIV translation (≥2 cm) lead to a sixfold increase in significant DD (odds ratio=6.71 and 6.13, respectively). Severity of DD was not associated with the number of levels fused (p=.2131), the surgical approach (p=.8245), or the construct type (p=.2922). No significant association was established between 10-year CRS and SRS-22 scores. Conclusion: In the first study of its kind, we found that only 7.3% of patients had significant DD 10 years after surgical correction of AIS. Rates of DD increased over time. Our data provide evidence to support recommendations to save as many caudal motion segments as possible, to avoid fusing to L4, and maintain the LIV tilt angle below 5° and LIV translation less than 2 cm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)684-690
Number of pages7
JournalSpine Deformity
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2018


  • Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS)
  • Composite Radiographic Score (CRS)
  • Disc degeneration
  • Quality of life
  • Radiographic indicator


Dive into the research topics of 'Disc Degeneration in Unfused Caudal Motion Segments Ten Years Following Surgery for Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this