Predictors of Emotional Functioning in Youth After Surgical Correction of Idiopathic Scoliosis

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Patients with idiopathic scoliosis, although otherwise healthy, often have significant concerns about their self-image and appearance. In a group of juveniles and adolescents, this can impact adjustment in school, functioning in peer groups, and general sense of well-being. There are limited data to help physicians reliably and precisely identify those who are at higher risk of poor emotional adjustment even after spine deformity correction. The purpose of this study was to determine the predictors of emotional maladjustment in juvenile and adolescent patients after surgical correction of idiopathic scoliosis.


A total of 233 juveniles, mean age 11.26±1.02 (range, 8 to 12) years and 909 adolescents, mean age 14.91±1.61 (range, 13 to 21) years, who underwent surgical correction for idiopathic scoliosis and who were participating in a prospective longitudinal multicenter database, were enrolled in the study. Participants completed the Scoliosis Research Society-22 (SRS-22) questionnaire before surgery and 2 years postoperatively. Radiographs were used to measure Cobb angle and surface measurements were used to determine decompensation and trunk shift.


Adolescents reported poorer mental health preoperatively (P<0.05) and 2 years postoperatively (P<0.001) than juveniles; however, both groups reported improved mental health (P<0.001) and self-image (P<0.01) postoperatively. Mental health 2 years postoperatively was predicted by preoperative self-image (P<0.05), mental health (P<0.001), and main thoracic Cobb angle (P<0.05) in the juvenile group. Within the adolescent group, mental health 2 years postoperatively was predicted by preoperative mental health (P<0.001); self-image 2 years postoperatively was predicted by preoperative mental health (P<0.01) and self-image (P<0.001).


Self-image and mental health are significantly improved after spine deformity correction in juveniles and adolescents with idiopathic scoliosis. However, consistent with normative development, adolescents are at higher risk for emotional maladjustment than juveniles. Surgical decision making in scoliosis correction should take the emotional status of the patient into consideration.

Level of Evidence:

III—prospective longitudinal multicenter study.

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