We investigated the spinopelvic morphology and global sagittal balance of patients with a degenerative retrolisthesis or anterolisthesis. A total of 269 consecutive patients with a degenerative spondylolisthesis were included in this study. There were 95 men and 174 women with a mean age of 64.3 years (sd 10.5; 40 to 88). A total of 106 patients had a pure retrolisthesis (R group), 130 had a pure anterolisthesis (A group), and 33 had both (R+A group). A backward slip was found in the upper lumbar levels (mostly L2 or L3) with an almost equal gender distribution in both the R and R+A groups. The pelvic incidence and sacral slope of the R group were significantly lower than those of the A (both p < 0.001) and R+A groups (both p < 0.001). The lumbar lordosis of the R+A group was significantly greater than that of the R (p = 0.025) and A groups (p = 0.014). The C7 plumb line of the R group was located more posteriorly than that of the A group (p = 0.023), but was no different from than that of the R+A group (p = 0.422). The location of C7 plumb line did not differ between the three groups (p = 0.068). The spinosacral angle of the R group was significantly smaller than that of the A group (p < 0.001) and R+A group (p < 0.001). Our findings imply that there are two types of degenerative retrolisthesis: one occurs primarily as a result of degeneration in patients with low pelvic incidence, and the other occurs secondarily as a compensatory mechanism in patients with an anterolisthesis and high pelvic incidence.
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