Scoliosis in children causes the spine to have a curve that looks like an “S” or “C” instead of an “I.” It also causes a rotated or twisted spine, which can pull the ribs along with it to form a curve.
Idiopathic scoliosis – The most common form; it has no known cause. This type affects girls more than boys and tends to run in families. It makes the spine look like an “S” or a “C.” There are three age groups for this type of scoliosis in children:
- Infantile: Diagnosed from birth to age 3
- Juvenile: Diagnosed from ages 3 to 9
- Adolescent: The most common, diagnosed from ages 10 to 18
Neuromuscular scoliosis – The second most common form of scoliosis. It is associated with neuromuscular conditions such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and spina bifida. This type of scoliosis makes a child’s spine look more like a letter “C.” It also will make the spine rotate or twist, pulling the ribs with it to make a curve.
Congenital scoliosis – Present at birth and due to the vertebrae (bones) in the spine not forming the way they should. This may occur during a baby’s development, which can cause the bones to be:
- Not separated the way they should be
- Partially formed
- Not formed the way they should be
Low-dose Imaging for Children With Scoliosis
Children with scoliosis typically need many X-rays to monitor the progression of the curve and to follow up after treatment. Norton Children’s Orthopedics of Louisville, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, uses an advanced imaging system called EOS Imaging to collect 2D and 3D images while exposing children to extremely low doses of radiation. If surgery is required, the system provides detailed tools for planning the operation, including 3D models.
The EOS Imaging system offers 50% to 85% less radiation than traditional X-ray systems and 95% less dose than basic computed tomography (CT) scans. The micro-dose feature further reduces radiation exposure.
With the help of a $300,000 grant from the Norton Children’s Hospital Foundation, with support from the PACCAR Foundation, the EOS Imaging system recently was installed at Norton Healthcare Pavilion in downtown Louisville, Kentucky.
Treating Scoliosis in Children
Our team treats children with all types of scoliosis, from mild to severe. Children are different, and our treatment plans focus on what will help your child have the best outcome.
Depending on type, there are surgical and nonsurgical scoliosis treatment options:
Nonsurgical Options for Scoliosis in Children
- Physical therapy
Surgical Options for Scoliosis in Children
- Spinal fusion – Surgery to stop a severe curve from progressing. It involves inserting rods and bone grafting to help the spine fuse and improve the curvature.
- Posterior fusion – The most common operation for idiopathic scoliosis, done through one incision in the back.
- Anterior fusion – A procedure done through the chest, often for curves lower in the spine.
- Anterior and posterior fusion – Some children require both surgeries. They may be done at the same time or spaced a few weeks apart.
- Spinal osteotomy – Surgery to help realign the back with partial removal of bone from the spine.
- Vertebral growth modulation – Surgery to help heal the curve with growth.
Most children and teens diagnosed with scoliosis can look forward to active lives. The outlook for your child greatly depends on the type of scoliosis and your child’s age when diagnosed. An important time for treatment of scoliosis in children is when the bones are still growing. Early diagnosis and treatment are keys for all types of scoliosis.