NYMC Faculty Publications

Correction of Sagittal Balance With Resection of Kissing Spines

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Case Report

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Kissing spines syndrome, also known as Baastrup's disease, is a common yet underdiagnosed disorder involving close approximation of adjacent spinous processes. These painful pseudoarticulations may be secondary to the compensatory mechanisms that result from sagittal imbalance. Conventional operative correction of sagittal balance includes a wide range of procedures from facetectomies to vertebral column resection. Resection of kissing spines for the operative management of sagittal imbalance is a treatment modality not extensively discussed in the literature but may offer improved patient outcomes with shorter operative times, lower risk, and reduced length of stay. A 67-year old male with a history of degenerative disk disease and scoliosis presented with neurogenic claudication and severe back pain that worsened with walking and improved with sitting. X-ray imaging of the lumbar spine revealed straightening of the normal lumbar lordotic curvature with mild rotoscoliosis. There was also evidence of retrolisthesis of L2 on L3 that worsened with flexion. The patient had Baastrup's disease at the L3-4 and L4, 5 levels that contributed to his reduced range of motion on extension imaging. Operative treatments including long-segment fusion with interbody cages to correct sagittal balance were considered with a discussion of possible debilitating and high-risk post-surgical outcomes. Instead, the patient underwent a simple decompression surgery involving laminectomies and resection of kissing spines to correct his sagittal imbalance. Postoperative follow-up imaging demonstrated significant improvement in sagittal balance, and the patient expressed relief of back and leg pain. Although underdiagnosed, consideration of kissing spines syndrome in the surgical correction of sagittal imbalance may offer an improvement over conventional operations. Our case presents a unique surgical perspective on the treatment of spinal stenosis with kissing spines with particular regard to correcting the sagittal imbalance, avoiding debilitating procedures, and providing better immediate postoperative outcomes.