Patient Outcomes After Harrington Instrumentation for Idiopathic Scoliosis: A 15- to 28-Year Evaluation

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Study Design.

A retrospective study was performed, using the Short Form-36 Health Survey and the Roland and Morris Disability Questionnaire, to investigate patient outcomes after fusion for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis using Harrington rod instrumentation.


To evaluate health-related quality of life and low back pain in a long-term follow-up study of surgery for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.

Summary of Background Data.

The commonly accepted surgical treatment for idiopathic evolutive scoliosis is vertebral fusion. It has been suggested that this procedure may cause low back pain and a poor quality of life over the long term. Outcome measures after surgery for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis have focused mainly on objective parameters such as radiographic measures. However, this information has proved to be correlated only weakly with outcomes that are more relevant to patients, such as functional status and symptoms. Until recently, only a few long-term outcome studies have used standardized and validated patient-oriented tools to evaluate surgically treated patients with scoliosis.


In this study, 70 patients treated with a standard Harrington technique were recontacted and evaluated by means of self-administered questionnaires (Short Form-36 Health Survey and Roland and Morris Disability, clinical examination, and radiographic analysis. Preoperative and follow-up radiographic findings were registered. Relations between radiographic and patient-oriented data were evaluated.


A comparison between the current sample and the Italian age-matched normative data for the Short Form-36 Health Survey showed them to have a similar pattern. Findings showed the patient-oriented outcome to be correlated inversely with the extension of vertebral fusion and the preoperative Cobb angle.


Long-term follow-up evaluation of Harrington rod fusion for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis showed no important impairment of health-related quality of life, as measured by patient-oriented evaluation.

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