Spino-femoral muscles affect sagittal alignment and compensatory recruitment: a new look into soft tissues in adult spinal deformity

Hongda Bao, Bertrand Moal, Shaleen Vira, Nicolas Bronsard, Celia Amabile, Thomas Errico, Frank Schwab, Wafa Skalli, Jean Dubousset, Virginie Lafage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: To quantify muscle characteristics (volumes and fat infiltration) and identify their relationship to sagittal malalignment and compensatory mechanism recruitment. Methods: Female adult spinal deformity patients underwent T1-weighted MRI with a 2-point Dixon protocol from the proximal tibia up to the T12 vertebra. 3D reconstructions of 17 muscles, including extensors and flexors of spine, hip and knee, were obtained. Muscle volume standardized by bone volume and percentage of fat infiltration (Pfat) were calculated. Correlations and regressions were performed. Results: A total of 22 patients were included. Significant correlations were observed between sagittal alignment and muscle parameters. Fat infiltration of the hip and knee flexors and extensors correlated with larger C7-S1 SVA. Smaller spinal flexor/extensor volumes correlated with greater PI-LL mismatch (r = − 0.45 and − 0.51). Linear regression identified volume of biceps femoris as only predictor for PT (R2 = 0.34, p = 0.005) and Pfat of gluteus minimus as only predictor for SVA (R2 = 0.45, p = 0.001). Sagittally malaligned patients with larger PT (26.8° vs. 17.2°) had significantly smaller volume and larger Pfat of gluteus medius, gluteus minimus and biceps femoris, but similar values for gluteus maximus, the hip extensor. Conclusion: This study is the first to quantify the relationship between degeneration of spino-femoral muscles and sagittal malalignment. This pathoanatomical study identifies the close relationship between gluteal, hamstring muscles and PT, SVA, which deepens our understanding of the underlying etiology that contributes to adult spinal deformity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2998-3005
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Spine Journal
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Adult spinal deformity
  • Compensatory recruitment
  • Sagittal malalignment
  • Spino-femoral muscles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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