Postoperative CT imaging to characterize fusion in pediatric and adolescent vertebral column resection

K. Aaron Shaw, Kendall Anigian, Daniel J. Sucato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Vertebral column resection (VCR) is a powerful corrective technique for the management severe, rigid spinal deformities but does carry a relatively high complications rate. One of the feared complications is pseudarthrosis which places the patient at risk for implant failure. We present a single-center experience with post-operative computed tomography (CT) imaging at the osteotomy site to screen for impending pseudarthrosis. Methods: A retrospective review of a single surgeon series of posterior-only VCR performed for severe pediatric and adolescent spinal deformities was performed. Demographic, radiographic, and clinical data were collected. Patients underwent postoperative CT imaging at the osteotomy site 6–9 months following VCR with grading of the osteotomy fusion. Patients with impending pseudarthrosis were recommended for prophylactic revision surgery. Results: Thirty-three patients were included (mean age 11.6 ± 4.9 years, 54.5% female), undergoing a mean 1.9 level VCR. Kyphoscoliosis accounted for 75.7% (N = 25/33) of cases with 45.5% of all cases being congenital etiology and 60.6% having at least 1 previous surgery. Postoperative CT imaging was performed in 22 patients at a mean of 7.8 months following VCR. Two patients were identified as having impending pseudarthrosis with one undergoing revision surgery to enhance the posterior fusion, with addition of a third rod while one patient refusing surgery who subsequently developed broken hardware requiring revision surgery. No patient with a stable fusion on CT imaging developed a clinically significant pseudarthrosis. Discussion: Postoperative CT imaging of the osteotomy is useful in screening for impending pseudarthrosis and can aide in decision making for clearance to return to activity or the need for prophylactic intervention following VCR in pediatric and adolescent patients. We advocate that obtaining routine CT imaging of the osteotomy site at 6–9 months may identify potential complications earlier and allow for prophylactic intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-410
Number of pages8
JournalSpine Deformity
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • CT scan
  • Pediatric deformity
  • Pseudarthrosis
  • Vertebral columb resection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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