Scoliosis

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Scoliosis Treatment & Sugery

Spinal Fusion

Lumbar spinal fusion is an operation that causes the vertebrae (bones of the spine) in the lower back to grow together. The goal of the lumbar fusion is to have the two vertebrae fuse (grow solidly together) so that there is no longer any motion between them. Removing the intervertebral disc (cushion between the bones) or bone spurs can reduce some of the pressure on the nerves, helping to reduce pain. Additionally, by fusing the two vertebrae together, this may stop the formation of bone spurs at that location, further reducing pain and potential nerve injury.

Scoliosis facts

  • Scoliosis is an abnormal curve in the spine.
  • There are several types of scoliosis based on the cause and age when the curve develops; the majority of patients have no known cause.
  • The most common symptom of scoliosis is curvature of the spine.
  • Scoliosis risk factors include age (9-15-year-olds), female sex, and family history.
  • Diagnosis is done by the physical exam and by imaging techniques such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs.
  • Depending on the severity of the curve and the risk for it getting worse, scoliosis can be treated with observation, bracing, or surgery.
  • Orthopedic surgeons or neurosurgeons are often consulted if surgery is needed.
  • The prognosis for an individual with scoliosis ranges from mainly good to fair, depending on how early the problem is diagnosed and treated.
  • There is no cure for scoliosis, but the symptoms can be reduced.

What is scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a disorder that causes an abnormal curve of the spine, or backbone. The spine has normal curves when looking from the side, but it should appear straight when looking from the front. Kyphosis is a curve in the spine seen from the side in which the spine is bent forward. There is a normal kyphosis in the middle (thoracic) spine. Lordosis is a curve seen from the side in which the spine is bent backward. There is a normal lordosis in the upper (cervical) spine and the lower (lumbar) spine. People with scoliosis develop additional curves to either side of the body, and the bones of the spine twist on each other, forming a "C" or an "S" shape in the spine.

Scoliosis is about two times more common in girls than boys. It can be seen at any age, but it is most common in those over about 10 years of age. Scoliosis is hereditary in that people with scoliosis are more likely to have children with scoliosis; however, there is no correlation between the severity of the curves from one generation to the next. Continue Reading

Reviewed on 4/27/2016
References
REFERENCES:

Fu, K.M., J.S. Smith, D.W. Polly, C.P. Ames, et al; Scoliosis Research Society Morbidity and Mortality Committee. "Morbidity and Mortality Associated With Spinal Surgery in Children: A Review of the Scoliosis Research Society Morbidity and Mortality Database." J Neurosurg Pediatr 7.1 Jan. 2011: 37-41.

Mehlman, Charles T. "Idiopathic Scoliosis." Medscape.com. Dec. 18, 2014. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1265794-overview>.

Negrini, S., S. Minozzi, J. Bettany-Saltikov, F. Zaina F, et al. "Braces for Idiopathic Scoliosis in Adolescents." Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 35.13 June 1, 2010: 1285-1293.

Phan, P., N. Mezghani, C.E. Aubin, J.A. De Guise, and H. Labelle. "Computer Algorithms and Applications Used to Assist the Evaluation and Treatment of Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis: A Review of Published Articles 2000-2009." Eur Spine J. Jan 30, 2011.

IMAGES:

1.Getty Images

2.Getty Images

3.Getty Images

4."Surgical result after ventral fusion of scoliosis" by Weiss HR, Goodall D - Weiss HR, Goodall D. Scoliosis. 2008 Aug 5;3:9. PMID: 1868195 doi:10.1186/1748-7161-3-9

5."Amanda-Scoliosis" by University of Utah Hospital - Radiology Department - X-Ray Image.

6.iStock

7."Amanda-Scoliosis" by University of Utah Hospital - Radiology Department - X-Ray Image.

8.iStock

9."Scoliosis patient in cheneau brace correcting from 56 to 27 deg" by Weiss HR - Weiss HR. Scoliosis 2007, 2:19. PMID: 18163917. doi:10.1186/1748-7161-2-19

10.Getty Images

11.Getty Images

12."Amanda-Scoliosis" by University of Utah Hospital - Radiology Department - X-Ray Image.

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