Focal disorders of the spine with compensatory deformities: how to define them

Andrea Redaelli, Pedro Berjano, Max Aebi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose: In this paper, the authors propose classifying the epiphenomenon of spinal deformity in two different categories: structural deformity, when the main driver of the observed deformity is a fixed and stiff alteration of the spinal segments, and compensatory deformity, which includes cases where the observed deformity is due to focal abnormalities. This last category comprises, but is not limited to, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, disc herniation, infection or tumor, hip disease or neurological disease (such as Parkinson’s disease). Method: Narrative review article. Results: We analyzed the focal diseases of the spine that may cause a compensatory deformity inducing adaptation in the unaffected part of the spine. Conclusion: The compensatory mechanisms involved in adaptive deformity represent an attempt to maintain a global alignment, to escape from pain or to control body posture. Graphical abstract: These slides can be retrieved under Electronic Supplementary material.[Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-69
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Spine Journal
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2018


  • Adult spine deformity
  • Compensatory deformity
  • Hip–spine syndrome
  • Sagittal balance
  • Structural deformity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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