Patient profiling can identify patients with adult spinal deformity (ASD) at risk for conversion from nonoperative to surgical treatment: initial steps to reduce ineffective ASD management

International Spine Study Group, International Spine Study Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background Context: Non-operative management is a common initial treatment for patients with adult spinal deformity (ASD) despite reported superiority of surgery with regard to outcomes. Ineffective medical care is a large source of resource drain on the health system. Characterization of patients with ASD likely to elect for operative treatment from non-operative management may allow for more efficient patient counseling and cost savings. Purpose: This study aimed to identify deformity and disability characteristics of patients with ASD who ultimately convert to operative treatment compared with those who remain non-operative and those who initially choose surgery. Study Design/Setting: A retrospective review was carried out. Patient Sample: A total of 510 patients with ASD (189 non-operative, 321 operative) with minimum 2-year follow-up comprised the patient sample. Outcome Measures: Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), Short-Form 36 Health Assessment (SF-36), Scoliosis Research Society questionnaire (SRS-22r), and spinopelvic radiographic alignment were the outcome measures. Methods: Demographic, radiographic, and patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) from a cohort of patients with ASD prospectively enrolled into a multicenter database were evaluated. Patients were divided into three treatment cohorts: Non-operative (NON=initial non-operative treatment and remained non-operative), Operative (OP=initial operative treatment), and Crossover (CROSS=initial non-operative treatment with subsequent conversion to operative treatment). NON and OP groups were propensity score-matched (PSM) to CROSS for baseline demographics (age, body mass index, Charlson Comorbidity Index). Time to crossover was divided into early (<1 year) and late (>1 year). Outcome measures were compared across and within treatment groups at four time points (baseline, 6 weeks, 1 year, and 2 years). Results: Following PSM, 118 patients were included (NON=39, OP=38, CROSS=41). Crossover rate was 21.7% (41/189). Mean time to crossover was 394 days. All groups had similar baseline sagittal alignment, but CROSS had larger pelvic incidence and lumbar lordosis (PI-LL) mismatch than NON (11.9° vs. 3.1°, p=.032). CROSS and OP had similar baseline PROM scores; however, CROSS had worse baseline ODI, PCS, SRS-22r (p<.05). At time of crossover, CROSS had worse ODI (35.7 vs. 27.8) and SRS Satisfaction (2.6 vs. 3.3) compared with NON (p<.05). Alignment remained similar for CROSS from baseline to conversion; however, PROMs (ODI, PCS, SRS Activity/Pain/Total) worsened (p<.05). Early and late crossover evaluation demonstrated CROSS-early (n=25) had worsening ODI, SRS Activity/Pain at time of crossover (p<.05). From time of crossover to 2-year follow-up, CROSS-early had less SRS Appearance/Mental improvement compared with OP. Both CROSS-early/late had worse baseline, but greater improvements, in ODI, PCS, SRS Pain/Total compared with NON (p<.05). Baseline alignment and disability parameters increased crossover odds—Non with Schwab T/L/D curves and ODI≥40 (odds ratio [OR]: 3.05, p=.031), and Non with high PI-LL modifier grades (“+”/‘++’) and ODI≥40 (OR: 5.57, p=.007) were at increased crossover risk. Conclusions: High baseline and increasing disability over time drives conversion from non-operative to operative ASD care. CROSS patients had similar spinal deformity but worse PROMs than NON. CROSS achieved similar 2-year outcome scores as OP. Profiling at first visit for patients at risk of crossover may optimize physician counseling and cost savings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)234-244
Number of pages11
JournalSpine Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2018


  • Adult spinal deformity
  • Crossover
  • Disability
  • Non-operative treatment
  • Operative treatment
  • Patient profiling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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