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Idiopathic scoliosis in Children

  • Patients come here from around the world for their scoliosis treatment. We're happy to be able to provide world-class care for them and for our local patients.

    --Spinal Program Team, Orthopedic Center

    If your child has been diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis, we know that you and your family are under stress. So, at Boston Children’s Hospital, we’ll approach your child’s treatment with sensitivity and support—for your child and your whole family.

    You can have peace of mind knowing that the team in the Boston Children’s Spinal Program has treated many children with spinal problems—some of which are so rare that few pediatric doctors have come across them—and we can offer you expert diagnosis, treatment and care. Scoliosis is not usually a life-threatening condition, and most children grow up to lead normal, active lives.

    About idiopathic scoliosis

    “Idiopathic” simply means that there is no definite cause for a given disease or condition. Idiopathic scoliosis is a condition in which the child’s spine—in addition to the normal front to back curvature—has an abnormal side-to-side “S”- or “C”-shaped curvature. The spine is also rotated or twisted, pulling the ribs along with it to form a multidimensional curve.

    Idiopathic scoliosis is the most common form of the condition, and it mainly affects adolescent girls.

    The Boston Children's Hospital approach

    Boston Children’s Spinal Program is known for clinical innovation, research and leadership. As a world center for the treatment of scoliosis—including a deep experience in treating infantile(early-onset) scoliosis—we’ll provide your child with the most advanced diagnostics and treatments—several of which were developed by our own researchers and clinicians.

    One of the first comprehensive programs, Boston Children’s Orthopedic Center is the largest and busiest pediatric orthopedic surgery center in the United States, performing more than 6,000 surgical procedures each year. And every year, our orthopedic surgeons perform more than 300 spine procedures on babies, children, adolescents and young adults. Our program, ranked among the top in the country by U.S.News & World Report, is the nation’s preeminent care center for children and young adults with developmental, congenital, neuromuscular and post-traumatic problems of the musculoskeletal system.

    We take a team approach to the treatment and care of idiopathic scoliosis:

    • A doctor, nurse, orthotist and physical therapist form the care team for most patients.
    • The team stresses non-surgical techniques whenever possible, with surgery a last resort. We use the safest and most efficacious techniques available.
      • We emphasize orthotic treatment for the effective control of idiopathic scoliosis.
    • Our team collaborates to tailor our program to the individual needs of each patient:
      • We adjust follow-up intervals and the x-ray needs to a child’s risk of a worsening curve.
    • When needed, we communicate with other disciplines, such as pulmonology (lungs) and neurology (nervous system).
    • We provide orthopedic care—including for scoliosis—at Boston Children’s satellite locations, as well as the main campus in Boston.
    • Infants and young children pose special problems with idiopathic scoliosis:
      • We can often treat babies and children with specially developed non-operative and surgical techniques.
      • Because we’re internationally known as a leading early-onset scoliosis center, our team is regularly consulted by other physicians and families around the globe.

    Idiopathic scoliosis: Reviewed by M. Timothy Hresko © Boston Children's Hospital, 2014

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