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Spine research

Knowledge Forums mark ten-year anniversary

In 2021, AO Spine Knowledge Forums (five expert-driven global study groups focused on spine tumor, deformity, trauma, spinal cord injury, and degenerative disease) celebrated their tenth anniversary. They started by involving the right experts and have evolved into powerful generators of research and new knowledge that translates into education and community awareness.

A particular strength of the Knowledge Forums is their reach: Truly global, each group has four out of five regions represented. This is especially important in emerging areas such as personalized medicine. Knowledge Forums are responsible for the unique academic status of AO Spine, setting it apart from other spine societies.

AO Spine publishes Adult Spinal Deformity Patient Profile

Adult spinal deformity (ASD) is highly complex. Rather than being a single disease, it is a broad spectrum of pathology in an inherently heterogeneous patient population. Published in August 2021, AO Spine’s  ASD Patient Profile aims to help clinicians navigate the treatment options available—to select the best one in each case.

Spine surgeons across the world expressed a clear need for a systematic and holistic approach to treating these patients, and this project aimed to develop a comprehensive classification to help clinicians optimize treatment.

Based on a systematic literature review, the  AO Spine ASD Patient Profile helps physicians treating ASD patients to systematically consider the factors that could contribute to the most efficient management of the condition. This promising project responds to clinical needs and is the first step in developing a classification system.

AO Spine Research Needs Assessment results

In 2021, AO Spine  published the results of its 2020 global research practices and needs assessment. This anonymous survey sought to gain insights into a wide range of issues including: research registries, training, education, mentorship, grants, financial support, and future directions. Surgeons from all geographic regions took part, over half were affiliated with an academic/university hospital, over 90 percent carried out clinical research, and over 60 percent had five or more years’ experience.

Despite the heterogeneity among research practices and needs across regions, surgeons in all regions shared the same challenges in carrying out research, and there was global support for research registries, training, and education. In conclusion, spine societies should tailor programs to local and regional needs, and work to establish guidelines, study pain management, and support predictive analytic modeling.

AO Spine Upper Cervical and Sacral Injury Classification Systems are now validated

In 2021, the AO Spine  Subaxial Cervical Spine Injury Classification System  was validated as a tool for patient management. Found to be substantially generalizable by region and surgeon experience, it supports surgeons by giving them consistency in communications about subaxial cervical spine traumatic injuries.

The AO Spine  Sacral Classification System  was also recognized internationally as reliable. Classification systems are vital to providing patient care, because when fracture severity is not correctly identified, the patient is vulnerable to inappropriate surgical management. Improved outcomes rely to a great extent on correct and validated classification systems. AO Spine’s work in this vital area will continue.