Characterization and surgical outcomes of proximal junctional failure in surgically treated patients with adult spinal deformity

Mitsuru Yagi, Mark Rahm, Robert Gaines, Ali Maziad, Tom Ross, Han Jo Kim, Khaled Kebaish, Oheneba Boachie-Adjei

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

182 Citations (Scopus)


STUDY DESIGN.: Retrospective case series of surgically treated patients with adult spine deformity (ASD). OBJECTIVE.: To report the incidence of proximal junctional failure (PJF), characterize PJF and evaluate the outcome of revision surgery for PJF. A modified classification is also proposed. SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA.: Although recent reports have shown the catastrophic results of PJF, few reports have shown the incidence, characteristics, and clinical outcomes of PJF in ASD. METHODS.: This retrospective analysis reviewed data entered prospectively into a multicenter database. Surgically treated patients with ASD with a minimum 2-year follow-up were included. PJF was defined as any type of symptomatic proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK) requiring surgery. On the basis of our previous classification, the following modified PJK classification was established: grade A, proximal junctional increase of 10° to 19°; grade B, 20° to 29°; and grade C, 30° or more. Three types of PJK were also defined: ligamentous failure (type 1), bone failure (type 2), and implant/bone interface failure (type 3). An additional criterion was added for the presence or absence of spondylolisthesis above the upper instrumentation vertebra (UIV). RESULTS.: PJF developed in 23 of the 1668 patients with ASD. The incidence of PJF was 1.4%. The mean age was 62.3 ± 7.9 years, and the mean follow-up was 4.0 ± 2.3 years. Seventeen patients had undergone prior surgical procedures. Six patients had UIV above T8, and 17 had UIV below T9. Six patients had associated spondylolisthesis above the UIV (PJF-S), whereas 17 patients did not (PJF-N). The radiographical data show a significant difference in the preoperative sagittal vertical axis between the PJF-S and PJF-N groups, whereas no significant difference was observed in the preoperative sagittal parameters (5.2 ± 3.9 cm vs. 11.4 ± 6.0 cm, P = 0.04). The most common type of PJF was type 2N. The PJF symptoms consisted of intolerable pain (n = 17), neurological deficits (n = 6), and progressive trunk deformity (n = 1). Eleven patients had additional PJK/PJF and 9 required additional revision surgical procedures. CONCLUSION.: The incidence of PJF among surgically treated patients with ASD was 1.4%. The most common type of PJF was 2N. Preoperative large sagittal vertical axis change and large amount of correction was a causative factor for spondylolisthesis above the UIV. After the revision surgery, further PJF was a commonly occurred event.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E607-E614
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2014 May 1
Externally publishedYes


  • PJF
  • PJK
  • adult spine deformity
  • complication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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