Establishing the minimum clinically important difference in neck disability index and modified japanese orthopaedic association scores for adult cervical deformity

International Spine Study Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE It is being increasingly recognized that adult cervical deformity (ACD) is correlated with significant pain, myelopathy, and disability, and that patients who undergo deformity correction gain significant benefit. However, there are no defined thresholds of minimum clinically important difference (MCID) in Neck Disability Index (NDI) and modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association (mJOA) scores. METHODS Patients of interest were consecutive patients with ACD who underwent cervical deformity correction. ACD was defined as C2-7 sagittal Cobb angle ≥ 10° (kyphosis), C2-7 coronal Cobb angle ≥ 10° (cervical scoliosis), C2-7 sagittal vertical axis ≥ 4 cm, and/or chin-brow vertical angle ≥ 25°. Data were obtained from a consecutive cohort of patients from a multiinstitutional prospective database maintained across 13 sites. Distribution-based MCID, anchor-based MCID, and minimally detectable measurement difference (MDMD) were calculated. RESULTS A total of 73 patients met inclusion criteria and had sufficient 1-year follow-up. In the cohort, 42 patients (57.5%) were female. The mean age at the time of surgery was 62.23 years, and average body mass index was 29.28. The mean preoperative NDI was 46.49 and mJOA was 13.17. There was significant improvement in NDI at 1 year (46.49 vs 37.04; p = 0.0001). There was no significant difference in preoperative and 1-year mJOA (13.17 vs 13.7; p = 0.12). Using multiple techniques to yield MCID thresholds specific to the ACD population, the authors obtained values of 5.42 to 7.48 for the NDI, and 1.00 to 1.39 for the mJOA. The MDMD was 6.4 for the NDI, and 1.8 for the mJOA. Therefore, based on their results, the authors recommend using an MCID threshold of 1.8 for the mJOA, and 7.0 for the NDI in patients with ACD. CONCLUSIONS The ACD-specific MCID thresholds for NDI and mJOA are similar to the reported MCID following surgery for degenerative cervical disease. Additional studies are needed to verify these findings. Nonetheless, the findings here will be useful for future studies evaluating the success of surgery for patients with ACD undergoing deformity correction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)441-445
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Spine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • Cervical deformity
  • Minimum clinically importance difference
  • Modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association
  • Neck Disability Index

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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