The prevalence of curve progression was evaluated in 210 boys who had idiopathic scoliosis. A minimum age of eight years, a deformity of at least 10 degrees, and radiographic follow-up of one year or progression of the curve within the first year of follow-up were the criteria for inclusion in the study.
Of the 210 patients, sixty-eight (32 per cent) had progression of 10 degrees or more. Four of the five patients who had had an initial curve of 50 degrees or more subsequently had a spinal arthrodesis. The risk of progression was significantly greater for patients who were at an earlier Risser stage (p < 0.002) and for those who were younger (p < 0.005). The risk of progression was also greater for patients who had had a larger curve at the time of presentation; of the sixty-three boys for whom the Risser grade was 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 when they were first seen and who had a curve of 25 degrees or more, twenty (32 per cent) had progression, compared with only two (5 per cent) of the thirty-eight who had a Risser grade of 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 and a curve of 24 degrees or less. Of the thirty-four patients for whom the Risser grade was 4 when they were first seen, five (15 per cent) had progression.
The late onset and late progression of scoliosis in this series suggests that boys who have scoliosis should be followed until they reach Risser stage 5 and that the optimum age at which to screen children for scoliosis should be later for boys than for girls.