Compensatory mechanisms contributing to keep the sagittal balance of the spine

Abstract

Introduction

Aging spine is characterized by facet joints arthritis, degenerative disc disease, bone remodeling and atrophy of extensor muscles resulting in a progressive kyphosis of the lumbar spine.

Objective

The aim of this paper is to describe the different compensatory mechanisms for patients with severe degenerative lumbar spine.

Material and methods

According to the severity of the imbalance, three stages are observed: balanced, balanced with compensatory mechanisms and imbalanced. For the two last stages, the compensatory mechanisms permit to limit the consequences of loss of lumbar lordosis on global sagittal alignment and therefore contribute to keep the sagittal balance of the spine.

Results

The basic concept is to extend adjacent segments of the kyphotic spine allowing for compensation of the sagittal unbalance but potentially inducing adverse effects.

Conclusion

Finally, we propose a three-step algorithm to analyze the global balance status and take into consideration the presence of the compensatory mechanisms in the spinal, pelvic and lower limb areas.

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Abbreviations

LL:

Lumbar lordosis

PI:

Pelvic incidence

PT:

Pelvic tilt

SS:

Sacral slope

TK:

Thoracic kyphosis

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Acknowledgments

We express our gratitude to Ms Chantal Silarakis, Hôpital Neurologique P. Wertheimer, Hospices Civils de Lyon, France, for her assistance in paper’s translation.

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Correspondence to Cédric Barrey.

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Barrey, C., Roussouly, P., Le Huec, JC. et al. Compensatory mechanisms contributing to keep the sagittal balance of the spine. Eur Spine J 22, 834–841 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00586-013-3030-z

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Keywords

  • Sagittal balance
  • Pelvis
  • Spinal alignment
  • Lumbar lordosis
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Lumbar kyphosis