Christopher Martin, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery, received a Best Paper Award from the North American Spine Society (NASS) and The Spine Journal. This year, the NASS Scientific Program Committee received a total of 1,150 abstracts, with Martin’s paper being one of the 23 highest-rated abstracts earning the coveted ‘Best Paper’ designation. 

As a spine surgeon with a mission to relieve pain and restore function with the least invasive techniques available, Martin wanted to explore how he and other spine surgeons could better understand failures of pelvic fixation–a previously under-reported complication following adult spinal deformity surgery.

Martin’s award-winning paper includes his findings from a study performed across 13 medical centers involving over 700 patients.

“While the greater spine deformity community has focused extensive research and effort on understanding failures of the proximal junction; those failures which involve pelvic instrumentation have not been as widely reported,” Dr. Martin said. 

Through this research, Dr. Martin identified a five percent failure rate with pelvic instrumentation, all of which required surgical revision within six months of the initial procedures.

“This paper helps define the incidence, risk factors, and successful salvage strategies for this complication,” Dr. Martin said. “We found that acute catastrophic failures involved a large magnitude of surgical corrections, likely resulting from the high mechanical strain on the pelvic instrumentation. Patients may benefit from anterior structural support placed at the most caudal motion segment, with multiple rods connecting to more than two pelvic fixation points. If failure occurs, a minimum of four rods and four pelvic fixation points can be successful.”

Martin will present the results of his research study at the end of the month at the NASS 36th Annual Meeting in Boston.

“This should aid deformity surgeons in improving their patient outcomes in these difficult cases,” Dr. Martin said. “By identifying patients at risk for this failure mechanism, we hope to also help inform treatment solutions so that the failure mechanism can be reduced or even eliminated.”