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A prospective magnetic resonance imaging study.To quantitatively explore the differences in the anatomic position of the aorta relative to the spine between supine and prone positions in ankylosing spondylitis (AS) patients with thoracolumbar kyphosis.Aortic complications may occur during the lumbar spine osteotomy in correcting thoracolumbar kyphosis secondary to AS, and a clear understanding of the spatial relationship between the aorta and the vertebrae is essential to prevent these iatrogenic complications. However, previous anatomic study was performed with AS patients in the supine position, which was different from the prone position adopted in surgery. To date, no report has been published to investigate the mobility of the aorta relative to the vertebrae between supine and prone positions in AS patients with thoracolumbar kyphosis.From March 2013 to September 2014, 22 AS patients (21 males, 1 female) with thoracolumbar kyphosis with a mean age of 30.7 years (range, 19–46 y) were recruited. Magnetic resonance imaging examinations from T9 to L3 in both the supine and prone positions were performed, and the left pedicle-aorta (LtP-Ao) angle and LtP-Ao distance were measured at each level. The differences of these parameters between the 2 positions were compared by the paired sample t test, and the relationships between the shifting of the aorta and the change of global kyphosis and lumbar lordosis were evaluated by the Pearson correlation coefficient. The level of significance (α) was set at 0.05.At T9–L3 levels, no significant difference was noted in LtP-Ao distances (43.78 vs. 44.42 mm; P=0.077) and LtP-Ao angles (0.82 vs. 0.22 degrees; P=0.053) between supine and prone positions. The correlation analysis also revealed no remarkable correlation between the change of LtP-Ao angle and increase of global kyphosis and lumbar lordosis in the prone position.There is no significant change of the relative positions between the aorta and the vertebrae at T9–L3 levels after the patient turned to a prone position, which implied that the mobility and range of motion of the aorta is limited in advanced stage of AS.