Surgical treatment of congenital kyphosis

Y. J. Kim, N. Y. Otsuka, J. M. Flynn, J. E. Hall, J. B. Emans, M. T. Hresko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Study Design. In this study, 26 cases of congenital kyphosis and kyphoscoliosis treated surgically were retrospectively reviewed. Objective. To assess the clinical outcomes and surgical indications for posterior only versus anteroposterior surgery in the child. Summary of Background Data. Congenital kyphosis usually is progressive without surgical intervention. Current recommended treatment includes posterior arthrodesis for deformities of less than 50° to 60°, and anterior release or decompression, anterior fusion, and posterior instrumented arthrodesis for large deformities and cord compression. Methods. Cases involving myelodysplasia, spinal dysgenesis, and skeletal dysplasia were excluded from the study. Kyphoscoliosis was included if the kyphotic deformity was greater than the scoliotic deformity. Patients were grouped by age and surgical technique. The patients in group P1 underwent posterior arthrodesis at an age younger than 3 years, and those in group P2 underwent the procedure at an age older than 3 years. The patients in group AP1 underwent anterior and posterior procedures at an age younger than 3 years, and those in group AP2 underwent the procedures at an age older than 3 years. The preoperative deformity, complications, and postoperative deformity correction were analyzed. There were nine Type 1 (failure of formation), nine Type 2 (failure of segmentation), and eight Type 3 (mixed) deformities. Four patients had associated spinal dysraphism. Three patients with Type 1 deformities had clinical or radiographic evidence of cord compression. Results. In Group P1, five patients at an average age of 16 months underwent posterior arthrodesis alone for an average kyphotic deformity of 49°. The immediate postoperative correction improved over a period of 6 years and 9 months by an additional 10°, resulting in a final deformity of 26°. Pseudarthrosis developed in two patients, requiring fusion mass augmentation or anterior arthrodesis. Neither patient was instrumented. In Group P2, five patients at an average age of 13 years and 7 months underwent posterior arthrodesis with instrumentation for kyphotic deformity of 59°. Approximately 30° of intraoperative correction was achieved safely using compression instrumentation and positioning. No further correction occurred with growth. The final residual kyphotic deformity was 29° after a follow-up period of 4 years and 5 months. In Group AP1, seven patients underwent anterior release or vertebra resection for deformity correction and posterior arthrodesis for an average kyphotic deformity of 48° at the age of 16 months. There were no iatrogenic neurologic injuries. The final residual kyphotic deformity was 22° after a follow-up period of 6 years and 3 months. In Group AP2, nine patients underwent anterior release or decompression with posterior arthrodesis for kyphotic deformity of 77° at the age of 11 years and 6 months. The deformity was corrected to 37°, with no significant loss over a follow-up period of 5 years and 2 months. There were two postoperative neurologic complications. Conclusions. After reviewing their experience, the authors made the following observations: 1) The pseudarthrosis rate was low even without routine augmentation of fusion mass if instrumentation was used; 2) gradual correction of kyphosis may occur with growth in patients younger than 3 years with Types 2 and 3 deformities after posterior fusion, but appears to be unpredictable; 3) the risk of neurologic injury with anterior and posterior fusion for kyphotic deformity was associated with greater age, more severe deformity, and preexisting spinal cord compromise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2251-2257
Number of pages7
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 15 2001


  • Congenital defects
  • Kyphosis
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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