Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis: The Effect of Brace Treatment on the Incidence of Surgery

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Abstract

Study Design.

Retrospective analysis of outcome in terms of incidence of surgery for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis during a period when bracing was not practiced.

Objectives.

To determine whether centers with an active bracing policy have lower numbers undergoing surgery for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis than a center where nonintervention is the practice.

Background Data.

Two major recent publications have claimed that bracing significantly improves the outcome in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. However, one had no control subjects and the other did not examine the final status of the subjects under review. While statistically significant differences in progression have been observed, what will convince patients to submit to an onerous treatment is the conviction that it will make a substantial difference, such as the avoidance of surgery.

Methods.

Since 1991, bracing has not been recommended for children with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis at this center. The scoliosis database was searched for patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis who were at least 15 years of age at last review and who had adequate documentation of curve parameters. The incidence of surgery was compared with that of published data from other centers.

Results.

A total of 153 children, 11 boys and 142 girls, fitted the criteria. Forty-three of these (28.1%) have undergone surgery. This was not statistically different from the surgery rate reported from an active bracing center.

Conclusions.

If bracing does not reduce the proportion of children with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis who require surgery for cosmetic improvement of their deformity, it cannot be said to provide a meaningful advantage to the patient or the community. Recent studies notwithstanding, the question of the efficacy of orthoses in idiopathic scoliosis remains unresolved.

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