Ponte osteotomies in a matched series of large AIS curves increase surgical risk without improving outcomes



The routine use of Ponte osteotomies in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) surgery is controversial with conflicting data for coronal plane correction and little analysis in the sagittal plane. The objective of this study was to analyze the efficacy of Ponte osteotomies in large curve AIS.


A single institution, prospectively-collected series of consecutive AIS patients who had Ponte osteotomies (P cohort) was directly matched to patients with no Pontes (NP cohort) by age, gender, Lenke classification, surgeon, coronal, and sagittal Cobb angles. The radiographic review included adjusted values using a 3D-derived published formula for preoperative T5-T12 kyphosis. Patient-reported outcomes (PROs) were assessed with the SRS-30 and Spinal Appearance Questionnaire (SAQ).


There were 68 patients (34/cohort) with minimum 2-year follow-up with no differences between P and NP cohorts in age, preoperative coronal Cobb (74.5° vs 70.8°), flexibility index, measured or 3D-adjusted T5-T12 kyphosis. Rod material/diameter, fusion levels, blood loss, and operative time did not differ, but implant density was higher in the P group (1.53 vs 1.31, p < 0.001). The P group had 7.9% greater coronal Cobb correction (66.6% vs 58.7%, p < 0.003) without difference in final Cobb angles (24.7° vs. 29.1°, p = 0.052). There were no differences in measured or adjusted T5-T12 kyphosis in the sagittal plane. The P group had a 15% rate of critical intraoperative neuromonitoring changes versus 0% in the NP group (p = 0.053). At follow-up, there were no differences in scoliometer measurements or any domain of SRS-30 or SAQ scores.


In this first reported matched series of AIS patients, Ponte osteotomies provide small radiographic gains in the coronal plane with no improvement in the sagittal plane and no change in truncal rotation. There was a higher risk of critical intraoperative neuromonitoring changes, and no benefits in patient-reported outcomes. This calls into question the routine use of Ponte osteotomies in AIS, even for curves averaging 70 degrees.

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This was an IRB-approved study. Funded by Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children Research Department.

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Correspondence to Daniel J. Sucato.

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LF (none), KP (none), DG (none), DS (Globus, Royalties, outside of submitted work).

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Floccari, L.V., Poppino, K., Greenhill, D.A. et al. Ponte osteotomies in a matched series of large AIS curves increase surgical risk without improving outcomes. Spine Deform (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s43390-021-00339-x

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  • Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis
  • AIS
  • Ponte
  • Osteotomy
  • Posterior spinal fusion