Unilateral versus bilateral lower extremity motor deficit following complex adult spinal deformity surgery: is there a difference in recovery up to 2-year follow-up?

Alexander Tuchman, Lawrence G. Lenke, Meghan Cerpa, Michael G. Fehlings, Stephen J. Lewis, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Kenneth M.C. Cheung, Leah Yacat Carreon, Mark B. Dekutoski, Frank J. Schwab, Oheneba Boachie-Adjei, Khaled Kebaish, Christopher P. Ames, Yong Qiu, Yukihiro Matsuyama, Benny T. Dahl, Hossein Mehdian, Ferran Pellisé, Sigurd H. Berven

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND CONTEXT: Scoli-RISK-1 is a multicenter prospective cohort designed to study neurologic outcomes following complex adult spinal deformity (ASD). The effect of unilateral versus bilateral postoperative motor deficits on the likelihood of long-term recovery has not been previously studied in this population. PURPOSE: To evaluate whether bilateral postoperative neurologic deficits have a worse recovery than unilateral deficits. STUDY DESIGN: Secondary analysis of a prospective, multicenter, international cohort study. METHODS: In a cohort of 272 patients, neurologic decline was defined as deterioration of the American Spinal Injury Association Lower Extremity Motor Scores (LEMS) following surgery. Patients with lower extremity neurologic decline were grouped into unilateral and bilateral cohorts. Differences in demographics, surgical variables, and patient outcome measures between the two cohorts were analyzed. RESULTS: A total of 265 patients had LEMS completed at discharge. Unilateral decline was seen in 32 patients (12%), while 29 (11%) had bilateral symptoms. At 2 years, there was no significant difference in either median LEMS (unilateral 50.0, interquartile range [IQR] 47.5–50.0; bilateral 50.0, IQR 48.0–50.0, p=.939) or change in LEMS from baseline (unilateral 0.0, IQR −1.0 to 0.0; bilateral 0.0, IQR −1.0 to 0.0, p=.920). In both groups, approximately two-thirds of patients saw recovery to at least their preoperative baseline by 2 years postoperatively (unilateral n=15, 63%; bilateral n=14, 67%). The mean Scoliosis Research Society-22R (SRS-22R) score at 2 years was 3.7±0.6 versus 3.2±0.6 (p=.009) for unilateral and bilateral groups, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: The prognosis for neurologic recovery of new motor deficits following complex adult spinal deformity is similar with both unilateral and bilateral weaknesses. Despite similar rates of neurologic recovery, patient reported outcomes for those with bilateral motor decline measured by SRS-22R are worse at 2 years after surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-402
Number of pages8
JournalSpine Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2019


  • Complication
  • Neurologic deficit
  • Scoliosis
  • Spinal deformity
  • Spine
  • Surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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