Soft landing technique as a possible prevention strategy for proximal junctional failure following adult spinal deformity surgery

Alejandro Cazzulino, Rikesh Gandhi, Thaddeus Woodard, Nissim Ackshota, M. Burhan Janjua, Vincent Arlet, Comron Saifi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: This cross sectional study describes a “Soft Landing” strategy utilizing hooks for minimizing proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK) and proximal junctional failure (PJF). The technique creates a gradual transition from a rigid segmental construct to unilateral hooks at the upper instrumented level and preservation of the soft tissue attachments on the contralateral side of the hooks. Authors devise a novel classification system for better grading of PJK severity. Methods: Thirty-nine consecutive adult spinal deformity (ASD) patients at a single institution received the “Soft Landing” technique. The proximal junctional angle was measured preoperatively and at last follow-up using standing 36-inch spinal radiographs. Changes in proximal junctional angle and rates of PJK and PJF were measured and used to create a novel classification system for evaluating and categorizing ASD patients postoperatively. Results: The mean age of the cohort was 61.4 years, and 90% of patients were women. Average follow up was 2.2 years. The mean change in proximal junctional angle was 8° (SD 7.4°) with the majority of patients (53%) experiencing less than 10° and only 1 patients with proximal junctional angle over 20°. Four patients (10%) needed additional surgery for proximal extension of the uppermost instrumented vertebra (UIV) secondary to PJF. Conclusions: Soft Landing technique is a possibly effective treatment strategy to prevent PJK and PJF following ASD that requires further evaluation. The described classification system provides management framework for better grading of PJK. The “Soft Landing” technique warrants further comparison to other techniques currently used to prevent both PJK and failure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-36
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Spine Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • Adult scoliosis
  • Adult spinal deformity (ASD)
  • Proximal junctional failure (PJF)
  • Proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK)
  • Spinal deformity
  • Supra laminar hook

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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