Jonathan Charles Elysee, Francis Lovecchio, Renaud Lafage, Bryan Ang, Alex Huang, Mathieu Bannwarth, Han Jo Kim, Frank Schwab, Virginie Lafage

September 2021, Volume 30, Issue 9, pp 2480 - 2485 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-021-06759-7

First Online: 20 February 2021


To investigate associations between muscle size, fat infiltration (FI), and global sagittal alignment in patients with adult spinal deformity (ASD).


Retrospective cohort study was conducted on a single-institution database of ASD patients with preoperative radiographs and CTs. Following multiplanar reconstructions of CTs, images in the plane of each vertebra were generated. The posterior vertebral musculature (PVM) was contoured on axial images at three vertebral levels (T2, T10, L3). FI was calculated by comparing Hounsfield units within muscles to the normative values of fat. Correlation analyses were conducted between demographics, alignment, and muscle characteristics.


107 patients underwent preoperative spine CT (58yo, 79%F, BMI 27 kg/m2). Muscle data were available for 49 pts at T2, 39 pts at T10, and 81 pts at L3. Mean FI was T2 = 33% ± 18, T10 = 28% ± 19, L3_Erector = 39% ± 19, and L3_Psoas = 19% ± 9. FI correlated across levels (T2 vs. T10 r = 0.698; T10 vs L3_Erector r = 0.506; L3_Erector vs Psoas r = 0.419) and with demographics; older pts had greater fat percentages (r = 0.31–0.45) and BMIs (r = 0.24–0.51). Increased FI at T2, T10, and L3 was associated with increased pelvic retroversion (PT: r = 0.25–0.43), global deformity (TPA: r = 0.27–0.45), and anterior malalignment (SVA: r = 0.23–0.41). The degree of FI in the PVM increased with the severity of SRS-Schwab PT and SVA modifiers.


In ASD patients, global sagittal malalignment is related to FI of the PVM throughout the lumbar and thoracic spine, as identified through CT. Future research should investigate how FI relates to ASD pathogenesis.

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