Proximal Junctional Kyphosis Following Posterior Hemivertebra Resection and Short Fusion in Children Younger Than 10 Years

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Study Design:

A retrospective study.


To investigate whether proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK) or obvious proximal junctional angle (PJA) changes in the sagittal plane develops following short fusion in children younger than 10 years of age with congenital scoliosis, and to investigate the possible risk factors.

Summary of Background Data:

PJK following long spinal fusion in adolescents and adults is a serious postoperative complication. Although the same problem may occur in patients with early-onset scoliosis who have undergone spine fusion, few studies have been reported any relationship between PJK and spinal fusion in young children with congenital scoliosis.

Materials and Methods:

Thirty-seven children treated in a single institution between 1998 and 2010 were reviewed retrospectively. The inclusion criteria included (1) younger than 10 years of age at the time of operation; (2) simple congenital deformity; (3) hemivertebra treated by posterior hemivertebrectomy with short fusion at a maximum of 5 motion segments; and (4) minimum follow-up for 2 years. The PJA from the caudal endplate of the upper instrumented vertebra (UIV) to the cephalad endplate of the vertebra adjacent to the UIV, thoracic kyphosis (T5–T12), lumbar lordosis (T12–S1), global sagittal balance, and magnitude of scoliosis of the major curves and upper compensated curves were measured on lateral radiographs. PJK was defined by a PJA>10 degrees during the follow-up and at least 10 degrees greater than the preoperative or early postoperative measurement. Wilcoxon tests were performed for statistical analysis.


PJK occurred in 7 of 37 patients (18.9%), during an average of 4.5±3.2 years of follow-up (2–12 y). The UIV level of children with PJK was on T9 in 4 patients, and T11, T12, and L1 in 1. Screw malposition at UIV was confirmed by postoperative computed tomography images in 6 patients. Only 1 patient with a screw deviation did not develop PJK during the follow-up period. None of the patients with PJK was symptomatic, and no patients required revision surgery because of PJK. PJK occurred and progressed during the first 6 months after surgery followed by almost no progression or slight improvement in patients that could be followed up beyond 6 months postoperatively; in association with an increase of the lumbar lordosis.


PJK occurred in pediatric patients with simple congenital deformities following hemivertebrectomy and short fusion. PJK was more common in patients with (1) greater immediately postoperative segmental kyphosis and PJA; (2) screw malposition on the UIV; and (3) hemivertebra located on the lower thoracic or the thoracolumbar region.

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