Pain is the Greatest Preoperative Concern for Patients and Parents Before Posterior Spinal Fusion for Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis

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Study Design.

Prospective cross-sectional study.


To evaluate patients’ and parents’ concerns so they can be addressed with appropriate preoperative counseling.

Summary of Background Data.

Despite much research on outcomes for posterior spinal fusion (PSF) in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS), little is available about preoperative fears or concerns.


Patients with AIS undergoing PSF, their parents, and surgeons were prospectively enrolled and asked to complete a survey on their fears and concerns about surgery at their preoperative appointment.


Forty-eight patients and parents completed surveys. Four attending pediatric spine surgeons participated and submitted 48 responses. Mean age of patients was 14.2 years. On a scale of 0 to 10, mean level of concern reported by parents (6.9) was higher than that reported by patients (4.6). Surgeons rated the procedure's complexity on a scale of 0 to 10 and reported a mean of 5.2. Neither patients’ nor parents’ level of concern correlated with the surgeons’ assessment of the procedure's complexity level (R = 0.19 and 0.12, P = 0.20 and P = 0.42, respectively). Top three concerns for patients were pain (25%), ability to return to activities (21%), and neurologic injury (17%). Top three concerns for parents were pain (35%), neurologic injury (21%), and amount of correction (17%). Top three concerns for surgeons were postoperative shoulder balance (44%), neurologic injury (27%), and lowest instrumented vertebrae selection (27%). Patients reported the same concerns 23% of the time as parents, and 17% of the time as surgeons. Parents and surgeons reported the same concerns 21% of the time.


Pain was the greatest concern for both patients and parents but was rarely listed as a concern by surgeons. Parent and patient level of concern did not correlate to the surgeon's assessment of the procedure's complexity. Neurologic injury was a top concern for all groups, but otherwise there was little overlap between physician, patient, and parent concerns.


Level of Evidence: 3

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