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Retrospective cohort study of consecutive patients undergoing primary fusion with segmental fixation for adult spinal deformity.We sought to determine the survivorship of primary fusion for adult spinal deformity and identify patient-specific predictors of complications requiring reoperation.Compared with the adolescent population, surgery for adult deformity is often more complex and technically difficult, contributing to a high reported rate of complications that can result in the need for reoperation. Reported complication rates vary widely.From 1999–2004 all patients who underwent primary instrumented fusion for nonparalytic adult spinal deformity at a single center were included. Inclusion criteria included minimum age at surgery of 20 years and minimum fusion length of 4 motion segments. Surgical, demographic, and comorbidity data were recorded. Reoperation was defined as any additional surgery involving levels of the spine operated on during the index procedure and/or adjacent levels. Comparisons were performed between patients who required reoperation and those who did not.Eighty-nine patients met inclusion criteria. Endpoint (minimum 2 years follow-up or reoperation) was reached for 91%. Mean follow-up was 3.8 years. Cumulative reoperation rate was 25.8%. Survival was 86.4% at 1 year, 77.2% at 2 years, and 75.2% at 3 years. Reasons for reoperation included infection (n = 8), pseudarthrosis (n = 3), adjacent segment problems (n = 5), implant failure (n = 4), and removal of painful implants (n = 3). Multivariate analysis showed smoking was significantly higher in the reoperation group.Using a strict definition of reoperation for a well-defined cohort, in the presence of relevant risk factors, many patients undergoing primary fusion for adult spinal deformity required reoperation. The results indicate that complex medical and surgical factors contribute to the treatment challenges posed by patients with adult spinal deformity. This represents the largest cohort reported to date of patients undergoing primary fusion using third-generation instrumentation techniques.