Impact of a Comparative Study on the Management of Scoliosis in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy: Are Corticosteroids Decreasing the Rate of Scoliosis Surgery in the United States?

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Study Design.

A cross-sectional analysis.


The aim of this study was to determine whether the surgical treatment for scoliosis due to Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) has decreased over a recent 11-year period, specifically, after the wide acceptance of glucocorticoid treatment for DMD.

Summary of Background Data.

DMD can result in a flaccid neuromuscular scoliosis that has been traditionally treated surgically. In 2004, a comparative study demonstrated that glucocorticoid treatment decreased the progression of scoliosis in DMD.


We used the Nationwide Inpatient Sample from 2001 to 2012 to identify patients with DMD undergoing spinal fusion. Demographic information (age, hospital size, location, geographic status) was collected. We examined the distribution of patient and hospital characteristics among cohorts undergoing spinal fusion from 2001 to 2004 (period 1; before publication of the comparative study), 2005 to 2008 (period 2; immediately following publication of the comparative study), and 2009 to 2012 (period 3; moderate duration following publication of the comparative study).


We identified 1874 males undergoing spinal fusion. During this period, the overall rate of DMD surgeries declined by 48%—from 1.87 surgeries in 2001 to 0.97 surgeries in 2012 per million US males per year. This decline was significantly pronounced following the publication of the comparative study [periods 2 and 3; For period 2 vs. period 1: incidence rate ratio (IRR) = 0.71, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) = 0.56–0.91, P = 0.01; For period 3 vs. period 1: IRR = 0.77, 95% CI = 0.61–0.97, P = 0.03].


Our study demonstrates a significant decrease in the rate of scoliosis surgery for DMD from 2001 to 2012. It appears that the decline in surgical treatment could be related to the publication and landmark study demonstrating decreased progression of scoliosis with glucocorticoid treatment.


Level of Evidence: 3

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