Current concepts and controversies on adolescent idiopathic scoliosis: Part I

Alok Sud, Athanasios I Tsirikos



Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis is the most common spinal deformity encountered by General Orthopaedic Surgeons. Etiology remains unclear and current research focuses on genetic factors that may influence scoliosis development and risk of progression. Delayed diagnosis can result in severe deformities which affect the coronal and sagittal planes, as well as the rib cage, waistline symmetry, and shoulder balance. Patient's dissatisfaction in terms of physical appearance and mechanical back pain, as well as the risk for curve deterioration are usually the reasons for treatment. Conservative management involves mainly bracing with the aim to stop or slow down scoliosis progression during growth and if possible prevent the need for surgical treatment. This is mainly indicated in young compliant patients with a large amount of remaining growth and progressive curvatures. Scoliosis correction is indicated for severe or progressive curves which produce significant cosmetic deformity, muscular pain, and patient discontent. Posterior spinal arthrodesis with Harrington instrumentation and bone grafting was the first attempt to correct the coronal deformity and replace in situ fusion. This was associated with high pseudarthrosis rates, need for postoperative immobilization, and flattening of sagittal spinal contour. Segmental correction techniques were introduced along with the Luque rods, Harri-Luque, and Wisconsin systems. Correction in both coronal and sagittal planes was not satisfactory and high rates of nonunion persisted until Cotrel and Dubousset introduced the concept of global spinal derotation. Development of pedicle screws provided a powerful tool to correct three-dimensional vertebral deformity and opened a new era in the treatment of scoliosis.

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