Scott Yang, Sean M. Jones-Quaidoo, Matthew Eager, Justin W. Griffin, Vasantha Reddi, Wendy Novicoff, Jeffrey Shilt, Ernesto Bersusky, Helton Defino, Jean Ouellet, Vincent Arlet

July 2011, Volume 20, Issue 7, pp 1039 - 1047 Health Technology Assessment & Transfer Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-011-1808-4

First Online: 26 April 2011

In adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) there has been a shift towards increasing the number of implants and pedicle screws, which has not been proven to improve cosmetic correction. To evaluate if increasing cost of instrumentation correlates with cosmetic correction using clinical photographs. 58 Lenke 1A and B cases from a multicenter AIS database with at least 3 months follow-up of clinical photographs were used for analysis. Cosmetic parameters on PA and forward bending photographs included angular measurements of trunk shift, shoulder balance, rib hump, and ratio measurements of waist line asymmetry. Pre-op and follow-up X-rays were measured for coronal and sagittal deformity parameters. Cost density was calculated by dividing the total cost of instrumentation by the number of vertebrae being fused. Linear regression and spearman’s correlation were used to correlate cost density to X-ray and photo outcomes. Three independent observers verified radiographic and cosmetic parameters for inter/interobserver variability analysis. Average pre-op Cobb angle and instrumented correction were 54° (SD 12.5) and 59% (SD 25) respectively. The average number of vertebrae fused was 10 (SD 1.9). The total cost of spinal instrumentation ranged from $6,769 to $21,274 (Mean $12,662, SD $3,858). There was a weak positive and statistically significant correlation between Cobb angle correction and cost density (r = 0.33, p = 0.01), and no correlation between Cobb angle correction of the uninstrumented lumbar spine and cost density (r = 0.15, p = 0.26). There was no significant correlation between all sagittal X-ray measurements or any of the photo parameters and cost density. There was good to excellent inter/intraobserver variability of all photographic parameters based on the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC 0.74–0.98). Our method used to measure cosmesis had good to excellent inter/intraobserver variability, and may be an effective tool to objectively assess cosmesis from photographs. Since increasing cost density only improves mildly the Cobb angle correction of the main thoracic curve and not the correction of the uninstrumented spine or any of the cosmetic parameters, one should consider the cost of increasing implant density in Lenke 1A and B curves. In the area of rationalization of health care expenses, this study demonstrates that increasing the number of implants does not improve any relevant cosmetic or radiographic outcomes.

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