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Fellowship and Practice Composition Affect Surgical Decision Making in Patients with Adult Degenerative Scoliosis: Spinal Deformity versus Degenerative Spinal Surgeons

Themistocles Protopsaltis, MD1, Ashish Patel, MD2, Andrew Yoo, BA1, Baron Lonner, MD1, John A. Bendo, MD1

1NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases, New York, NY, USA 2SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY, USA


For the Adult Degenerative Scoliosis (ADS) patient with radiculopathy, there is no clear data in the literature to guide the spine surgeon’s decision making in choosing between limited decompression alone, short segment fusion, or longer arthrodesis of the deformity. This study investigates the differences in operative planning, for patients with ADS and radiculopathy, between two groups of spine surgeons based on fellowship experience and practice composition.


Six Degenerative Spine surgeons (Group 1) and 6 Spinal Deformity surgeons (Group 2) were shown 7 cases of patients with ADS and radiculopathy. Surgeons completed a questionnaire detailing their planned operative intervention including the number of fusion levels, if any, approach, choice of bone graft, and interbody device. Pearson Correlation was used to investigate the association between fellowship training, practice composition, number of levels fused, and other variables. Intraclass correlation (ICC) analysis was used to investigate the internal consistency among the groups.


There was a direct correlation between fellowship deformity experience and practice composition (r=0.75, p<0.01), and between deformity practice composition and the number of planned fusion levels (r=0.90, p<0.001). Group 1 surgeons fused a mean 3.7 vertebral levels (range 0-6.7), while Group 2 surgeons fused a mean 10.8 levels (range 4-16.5). Group 2 surgeons fused a significantly greater number of levels for each case than degenerative surgeons on paired student t-test (p=0.002). Group 1 surgeons chose decompression alone more commonly than deformity surgeons (p<0.05). Group 2 surgeons had significantly higher group consistency by ICC analysis (p=0.004).


Fellowship and practice composition influence the physician’s surgical planning in ADS. There is a lack of standardized treatment paradigms for the management of radiculopathy in patients with ADS.

adult degenerative scoliosis, preoperative planning, spine
Volume 9 Article 21