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Idiopathic scoliosis

  • 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

  • FAQ

    Q: What is scoliosis?

    A: Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine, in addition to the normal front to back curvatures, has an abnormal side-to-side “S”- or “C”-shaped curvature. The spine is also rotated or twisted, pulling the ribs along with it. Sometimes, a child’s lung function can be compromised when the curvature is severe or starts very early in life. The condition isn’t rare. It mainly affects girls—many of whom have mild forms of scoliosis, are never even aware of it, and never need treatment.

    Q: What is idiopathic scoliosis?

    A: Idiopathic scoliosis is the most common type of scoliosis, most commonly seen in adolescent and pre-adolescent girls. “Idiopathic” means that there is no definite cause. Nothing you or your child did caused it, and there’s nothing you could have done to prevent it. There are different degrees of severity, but most cases require no intervention. Scoliosis tends to run in families, and girls are eight times more likely than boys to develop the condition.

    Q: How does Boston Children’s treat idiopathic scoliosis?

    A: Treatment for spinal problems depends on the nature and severity of a child’s condition. Boston Children’s Spinal Program provides comprehensive treatment—including evaluation, diagnosis, consultation and follow-up care. Treatments can include:

    • simple observation and monitoring
    • physical therapy
    • bracing
    • surgery

    Q: What are the signs and symptoms of idiopathic scoliosis?

    A: Because of all the possible combinations of curvatures, scoliosis can look quite different from child to child. Common signs and symptoms of scoliosis may include:

    • uneven shoulder heights
    • head not centered with the rest of the body
    • uneven hip heights or positions
    • uneven shoulder blade heights or positions
    • prominent shoulder blade
    • when standing straight, uneven arm lengths
    • when bending forward, the left and right sides of the back appear asymmetrical

    Symptoms that suggest scoliosis can resemble those of other spinal conditions or deformities, or may result from an injury or infection.

    Q: How is a spinal problem usually detected?

    A: Most spinal problems are detected by a child’s parents or pediatrician, or by school screenings.

    Q: How is scoliosis usually diagnosed?

    A: Once a problem is detected, doctors will use a medical and family history, physical exams and diagnostic tests to determine the nature and extent of your child’s spinal condition and options for treatment. Testing can include:

    • x-rays
    • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
    • computerized tomography scan (CT or CAT scan)
    • blood tests
    • ultrasound (sonogram)
    • bone scans
    • bone density scans (dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, DEXA, DXA)
    • pulmonary function tests

    Q: Is scoliosis related to poor posture?

    A: No. Scoliosis is a spinal abnormality. It’s neither a cause nor a result of poor posture.

    Q: How common is scoliosis?

    A: According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, three to five out of every 1,000 children develop spinal curves that are considered large enough to require treatment. Idiopathic scoliosis is the most common type, and more common in girls than boys.

    Q: Does scoliosis hurt?

    A: Actually, most scoliosis isn’t painful in adolescents and children. But there is still the potential for significant risk of pain developing in adulthood.

    Q: Will scoliosis affect my child’s lungs and/or other organs?

    A: The lungs may be affected by severe scoliosis, particularly early-onset scoliosis. But even a severe spinal deformity doesn’t usually affect the function of other organs.

    Q: Will my other children have spinal defects?

    A: The possibility of a genetic component of spinal defects is still being studied. What’s known is that idiopathic scoliosis does tend to run in families. If you have a child with a spinal defect, it’s advisable to consult a geneticist, who can take a family history and discuss your particular situation.

    Q: What is the long-term outlook for children with scoliosis?

    A: Scoliosis is not a life-threatening condition, except in some early-onset scoliosis. The outlook for your child greatly depends on the nature and severity of her scoliosis and her age, since the amount of time remaining for her to achieve complete bone growth plays a big factor. Early diagnosis and early treatment can improve the outlook for many forms of scoliosis. Most children and adolescents diagnosed with scoliosis can look forward to normal, active lives.

    As your child grows, your orthopedist will monitor her curve through frequent check-ups. Be sure to also follow her regular program of well-child checkups. If your child is a teen, encourage her to live normally and to participate in sports and/or school activities. These will add greatly to her general health and sense of well-being.

    Q: What causes scoliosis curves?

    A: In most cases, there is no definite cause (idiopathic scoliosis) of, or way to prevent, the spine’s failure to grow as straight as it should. Heredity may play a part, but no one genetic link has been confirmed.

    Q: What is Boston Children’s experience treating scoliosis?

    A: At Boston Children’s Spinal Program, we’re known for our clinical innovations, research and leadership. As a world center for the treatment of scoliosis, we offer the most advanced diagnostics and treatments—several of which were pioneered and developed by our researchers and clinicians.

    When to seek medical advice

    Scoliosis will usually become apparent as your child grows. Consult your pediatrician if her:

    • shoulders are of uneven heights
    • head isn’t centered with the rest of her body
    • hips are of uneven heights or positions
    • shoulder blades are of uneven heights or positions
    • arms hang beside her body unevenly when she stands straight
    • left and right sides of her back appear different in height when she bends forward

    Questions to ask your doctor

    If your child is diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis, you may feel overwhelmed with information. It can be easy to lose track of the questions that occur to you. Lots of parents find it helpful to jot down questions as they arise—that way, when you talk to your child’s doctors, you can be sure that all of your concerns are addressed. Some of the questions you may want to ask include:

    • What is happening to my child, and why?
    • Are other tests needed to diagnose my child?
    • What actions might you take after you reach a diagnosis?
    • What will happen with growth over time?
    • Will there be restrictions on my child’s activities?
    • Will there be long-term effects?
    • What can we do at home?

    Who’s at risk

    Risk factors for developing idiopathic scoliosis (the most common form) include:

    • age: With the onset of puberty, during the maximum growth spurt, signs and symptoms of scoliosis may begin to manifest themselves.
    • gender: Girls are five to eight times more likely than boys to develop scoliosis.
    • heredity: Idiopathic scoliosis tends to run in families.

    Complications

    Complications from adolescent idiopathic scoliosis after treatment are uncommon, the most common being back pain and residual curvature. However, if left untreated, adults with moderate or severe scoliosis can have progressively worsening curves that cause cosmetic disfigurement, back pain and in rare cases, difficulty breathing.

    Treatment in adulthood after the curve has already become severe may be somewhat less successful than treatment during childhood or adolescence. By treating your child’s progressive curves early, we hope to keep them from becoming problems when she reaches adulthood.

    For teens

    Besides the typical issues any teenager faces—from social acceptance to body changes and more—if you’re undergoing bracing and physical therapy for scoliosis, it’s true that you’ll also have to deal with medical appointments, feeling different and assuming a big personal responsibility for maintaining your own good health. If your scoliosis is mild or moderate, you may wonder why we need to monitor and treat it, since it may not be painful or bothersome.

    It’s important for you to know that if left untreated until you’re an adult, your moderate or severe scoliosis can worsen, resulting in curves that cause cosmetic disfigurement, back pain and, in severe cases, difficulty breathing.

    Treatment in adulthood after the curve has already become severe may be somewhat less successful than treatment during your adolescence. So, by treating your progressive curves early, we hope to keep them from becoming problems when you reach adulthood.

    It may also help you to know that you can participate in sports and other normal activities—your general health will actually improve with an active lifestyle. Your brace can be removed for sports, and most braces are lightweight and can be worn, unseen, under your clothes.

    If you feel overwhelmed, depressed or anxious through this important time in your transition to adulthood, speak to your doctor or counselor to get help.

    What you can do at home

    As your child grows, your orthopedist will monitor her curve through frequent check-ups. Be sure to also follow her regular program of well-child checkups. If your child is a teen, encourage her to live normally and to participate in sports and/or school activities. These will add greatly to her general health and sense of well-being.

    Click here to view the Scoliosis Glossary.

  • At Boston Children's Hospital, we know that the first step in treating your child is forming an accurate and complete diagnosis.

    Even though doctors and some schools routinely screen for idiopathic scoliosis, the condition can be difficult to diagnose. Sometimes the curves are obvious, but other times they aren’t immediately visible. Since scoliosis curves often aren’t painful, and since they usually progress slowly, they can be overlooked until a child approaches puberty.

    Because detecting and treating scoliosis early are important for successful outcomes, pediatricians, family doctors and even some school programs routinely look for signs that scoliosis may be present.

    Once a problem is detected, doctors will use a medical and family history, physical exams and diagnostic tests to determine the nature and extent of your child’s scoliosis. Your doctor will review your child’s complete prenatal and birth history, as well as any family history of scoliosis.

    During your child’s physical exams, her physician will be looking for, and measuring, abnormal contours that indicate scoliosis. Through physical exams and diagnostic testing, the doctor will determine the:

    • shape of the curve (“S” or “C” shape; involvement of ribs and muscles)
    • location of the curve (upper [thoracic] spine; lower [lumbar] spine; or both [thoracolumbar])
    • direction of the curve (bend to left or right)
    • angle of the curve in degrees (Cobb angle)

    X-rays and other tests

    X-rays (front and side) are the main diagnostic tools for confirming the presence of scoliosis, as well as the severity of the curve. To get more information, or if the doctor suspects that an underlying condition might be causing the scoliosis, additional tests can include:

    The likely progression of an adolescent’s curves can often be predicted by assessing the magnitude of her existing curve(s), as well as her physiologic and skeletal maturity.

  • How we'll treat your child's scoliosis depends on the complexity and severity of her condition. Boston Children's Hospital's Spinal Program provides comprehensive treatment—including evaluation, diagnosis, consultation and follow-up care.

    Treatments can include:

    • simple observation and monitoring: Once an abnormal spine curve has been detected, it's important to monitor the curve as your child grows. In many cases, your child's curve may require only close monitoring during skeletal growth. Your Boston Children's physician will determine your treatment plan and follow-up based on your child's x-rays and physical exams.
    • physical therapy: Scoliosis can often be helped by physical therapy. Our physical therapy team's goal is to maximize your child's physical functioning. Our therapists work closely with the Spinal Program to also provide exercise programs and additional therapies to address pain and the muscular imbalance that can be associated with spinal abnormalities.
    • bracing: If your growing child's curve shows significant worsening or is already greater than 30 degrees, your physician may recommend a bracing program, in which a scoliosis brace is designed specifically for your child's particular curve. The brace holds your child's spine in a straighter position while she is growing in order to partly correct the curve or prevent it from increasing. A bracing program may help avoid surgery.
    • casting: In certain situations—as in some cases of early-onset (infantile) idiopathic scoliosis—body casting is indicated.
    • surgery: If surgery becomes necessary, our Spinal Program's orthopedic surgeons use the most advanced surgical techniques for correcting spinal problems, such as:
      • spinal fusion: the most common surgical procedure for treating spinal problems
        • Usually, a fusion and instrumentation are combined to correct and solidify the curve.
      • for younger growing children:
        • dual posterior growing rods (for early-onset scoliosis): control spinal deformity while allowing spinal growth with periodic lengthenings
        • expansion thoracostomy/VEPTR™ (titanium rib) procedure to control chest and spine deformity while permitting  growth of both chest and spine
        • vertebral stapling (a minimally-invasive surgical alternative to bracing for scoliosis in some circumstances)
        • MAGEC (MAGnetic Expansion Control) System, an adjustable growing rod system that uses magnetic technology and a remote control to non-invasively lengthen the device
      • thoracoscopic anterior spinal surgery and instrumentation
      • spinal osteotomy: controlled breaking or cutting and realigning of bone into a corrected position; may be performed when there is significant rigid deformity
      • vertebral column resection: circumferential resection of a portion of the spine to permit correction of the most severe deformities

    Typical treatments

    Your Boston Children's orthopedist will make treatment determinations depending on your child's age, the type and progression rate of her curve, the prediction of further curve progression and other factors. Typical treatment plans for idiopathic scoliosis can include:

    • adolescent idiopathic scoliosis: 10 to 18 years of age
      • curves less than 25 to 30 degrees observed and monitored regularly
      • bracing for curves 30 to 40 or 45 degrees (prefer to use on children who are still growing)
      • consider bracing for curves that progress rapidly to 20 to 25 degrees
      • consider surgery for curves larger than 40 to 50 degrees
    • juvenile idiopathic scoliosis: 3 to 9 years of age
      • diagnostic MRI if curve is more than 20 degrees or atypical
      • curves less than 20 degrees observed and monitored regularly
      • bracing for curves 20 to 50 degrees
      • bracing for smaller curves that progress rapidly to 20 to 25 degrees
      • growing rods or vertebral stapling for very large curves or some curves not responsive to bracing
    • infantile (early-onset) idiopathic scoliosis: birth to 3 years of age
      • brief observation to determine if curves are self-resolving
      • MRI for diagnosis in persistent curves
      • casting followed by bracing for persistent or larger curves
      • surgery for very large curves (often dual growing rods)

    Caring for your adolescent after surgery

    In the unlikely event that your child needs surgery (spinal fusion) to correct her scoliosis curves, preparation for—and attention to—her care during the healing period will help ensure a positive outcome:

    • For about three months after surgery—and to some extent throughout the healing period—she must restrict certain physical activities, such as running, sports, lifting, bending and twisting. After three months, she can gradually return to nearly all activities.
    • Some at-home modifications in advance of her surgery will help her avoid activities and motions that put her fusion at risk:
      • Place often-used items within easy reach—no bending.
      • Place groceries on shelves—no lifting heavy grocery bags.
      • Modify your expectations of her chores—no bed-making or other bending/twisting activities.
      • Consider putting her bed on the same floor as the bathroom.
    • Follow your doctor's directions for physical therapy (stretching, strengthening and appropriate aerobic activity).

    Caring for your child as she grows

    As your child grows, your orthopedist will monitor her curve through frequent check-ups. Also, be sure to follow her regular program of well-child checkups. If your child is a teen, encourage her to live normally and to participate in sports and/or school activities. These will add greatly to her general health and sense of well-being.

    Scoliosis is not a life-threatening condition, except in some early-onset scoliosis. The outlook for your child greatly depends on the nature and severity of her scoliosis and her age, since the amount of time remaining for her to achieve complete bone growth plays a big factor. Early diagnosis and early treatment can improve the outlook for many forms of scoliosis. Most children and adolescents diagnosed with scoliosis can look forward to normal, active lives.

    Coping and support

    At Boston Children's, we understand that a hospital visit can be difficult, and sometimes overwhelming. So, we offer many amenities to make your child's—and your own—hospital experience as pleasant as possible. Visit The Center for Families for all you need to know about:

    • getting to Boston Children's
    • accommodations
    • navigating the hospital experience
    • resources that are available for your family

    In particular, we understand that you may have a lot of questions when your child is diagnosed with scoliosis. How will it affect my child long term? What do we do next? Boston Children's can help you connect with extensive resources to help you and your family through this stressful time, including:

    • patient education: From doctor's appointments to physical therapy and recovery, our nurses and physical therapists will be on hand to walk you through your child's treatment and help answer any questions you may have—Will my child need surgery? How long will her recovery take? How should we manage home exercises and therapy? We'll help you coordinate and continue the care and support you received while at Boston Children's.
    • parent-to-parent: Do you want to talk with someone whose child has been treated for your child's form of scoliosis? We can often put you in touch with other families who've been through the same process or procedure that you and your child are facing, and who will share their experiences.
    • faith-based support: If you're in need of spiritual support, we'll connect you with the Children's chaplaincy. Our program includes nearly a dozen clergy—representing Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Catholic and other faith traditions—who will listen to you, pray with you and help you observe your own faith practices during your hospital experience.
    • social work: Our social workers and mental health clinicians have helped many other families in your situation. We can offer counseling and assistance with issues such as coping with your child's diagnosis, stresses relating to coping with illness and dealing with financial issues.
  • A long line of orthopedic firsts

    With a long history of excellence and innovation and a team of clinicians and researchers at the forefront of orthopedic research and care, Boston Children's is home to many treatment breakthroughs:

    • one of the first scoliosis clinics in the nation
    • advances in our Spinal Program, such as video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery
    • the oldest and largest comprehensive center for the care of spina bifida
    • a hip program that has performed more than 1,200 periacetabular osteotomies
    • one of the first sports medicine clinics in the nation
    • advanced techniques and microsurgery care for complex fractures and soft tissue injuries to the hand and upper extremity
    • one of the first centers in the nation to use adjuvant chemotherapy and perform limb salvage surgery for patients with osteosarcoma

    Clinical Effectiveness Research Center

    The Orthopedic Clinical Effectiveness Research Center (CERC) helps coordinate research and clinical trials to improve the quality of life for children with musculoskeletal disorders. This collaborative clinical research program is unique in the nation and plays an instrumental role in establishing—for the first time—evidence-based standards of care for pediatric orthopedic patients throughout the world.

    Major areas of focus for the CERC include:

    • spinal disorders
    • hip disorders
    • upper extremity disorders
    • brachial plexus birth palsy
    • trauma/fractures

    Physicians in the Spinal Program are pursuing several areas of basic and clinical research based at Boston Children’s and the Harvard Orthopaedics Biomechanics Laboratory. Research topics include:

    • idiopathic scoliosis and congenital scoliosis
    • spondylolisthesis and spondylolysis
    • bone density studies of braced patients
    • in vitro mechanical testing of lumbosacral fixation devices
    • computer-assisted strength analysis of vertebral metastases
    • blood loss conservation during spinal surgery
    • pain management during spinal surgery

    Clinical trials

    For more than a century, orthopedic surgeons and investigators at Boston Children’s have played a vital role in the field of musculoskeletal research, pioneering treatment approaches and major advances in the care and treatment of ailments such as scoliosis, polio, tuberculosis, hip dysplasias and traumas to the hand and upper extremities.

    Our pioneering research helps answer the most pressing questions in pediatric orthopedics today—providing children with the most innovative care available.

    At Boston Children’s Orthopedic Center, we take great pride in our basic science and clinical research leaders, who are recognized throughout the world for their respective achievements. Our orthopedic research team includes:

    • five full-time basic scientists
    • 28 clinical investigators
    • a team of research coordinators and statisticians

    Ongoing studies

    Ongoing clinical studies include:

    Spine Studies Partially Sponsored by the Spinal Deformity Study Group (SDSG): The mission and purpose of the SDSG is to create a means and forum whereby multi-center studies can be developed and conducted both efficiently and effectively. The SDSG is comprised of 50 national and international spine surgeons from 35 participating sites worldwide. John Emans, MD, director, Division of Spinal Surgery, and M. Timothy Hresko, MD, orthopedic surgeon, are members of the SDSG.

    • (SDSG) Prospective Pediatric and Adolescent Scoliosis Study: This is a multi-center study focused on the outcomes of pediatric and adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. The main purpose of this observational study is to develop a prospective comprehensive radiographic and clinical database on consecutively treated pediatric and adolescent scoliosis surgical cases to assess outcome measures in patients with operative idiopathic scoliosis being treated with current surgical techniques. A secondary objective is to obtain data on currently available surgical approaches to treat idiopathic scoliosis in the thoracic, thoracolumbar and lumbar spine.
    • (SDSG) Prospective Pediatric and Adolescent Kyphosis Study: The main objective of this prospective multi-center, observational study is to assess outcome measures in pediatric and adolescent patients with kyphosis who are being treated non-operatively or operatively with current surgical techniques. A secondary objective is to collect data on currently available surgical approaches to treat pediatric kyphosis in the thoracic and/or thoracolumbar spine.
    • (SDSG) Prospective Study of Deformity Management and Pulmonary Function in Early-Onset Scoliosis: The goal of this prospective multi-center study of children with idiopathic scoliosis is to document concomitantly: 1) control of spinal deformity; 2) growth of the thoracic spine longitudinally and transversely at a rate commensurate with the number of vertebrae involved; and 3) increasing lung volume, absolute and relative to body size.
    • (SDSG) The Effect of Surgery on Sagittal Spino-pelvic Measures of Balance in Developmental Spondylolisthesis and Its Relation to Clinical Outcome: The short-term goal of this prospective multi-center, observational study is to confirm the predictive value of sagittal spino-pelvic measurements in the surgical treatment of L5-S1 developmental spondylolisthesis. The long-term objective is to determine the optimal surgical treatment for L5-S1 developmental spondylolisthesis based on x-ray evaluation of sagittal trunk balance and functional outcome.

    Other Multicenter Studies of Importance: By combining efforts with other centers, the Division of Spine Surgery at Boston Children’s is able to more quickly reach valid research conclusions applicable to clinical practice.

    • Bracing in Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis Trial (BrAIST) is a multi-center, randomized trial funded by the National Institutes of Health. Boston Children’s was one of 18 pediatric centers in North America to participate in this clinical trial. Results in the New England Journal of Medicine, published on Sept. 19, 2013, provided strong evidence for the value of bracing patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.
    • Dual Growing Rod Instrumentation with Limited Fusion for the Treatment of Early Onset Scoliosis: This multi-center project is sponsored by the Growing Spine Study Group (GSSG). Initially a retrospective study, it has become a prospective, observational study with 14 clinical centers from around the world contributing data. The main goal is to determine how successful dual growing rods and Vertical Expandable Prosthetic Titanium Rib (VEPTR™) devices are in correcting progressive scoliosis in very young children. Secondarily, researchers want to know if children who undergo successful surgical intervention with these devices, to control their curve during growth, need to go on to receive a definitive final fusion. Or, if the hardware can be removed and the curve simply observed over time for possible progression. Recently, the study was modified to include a non-operative cohort of patients who are treated for early onset scoliosis with non-surgical methods, such as bracing and casting. Outcomes associated with operative and non-operative treatment will be compared in hopes that the most effective methods of correction can be identified.
    • Skeletal Complications in Neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1): This study is being conducted by researchers at Boston Children's and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. The goal is to identify cell types associated with and responsible for skeletal defects and impaired bone healing associated with NF1. A large proportion of patients with NF1 display skeletal abnormalities, such as alterations in bone size and shape, the presence of scoliosis and a tendency to develop pseudoarthrosis. Tissue samples from patients with and without NF1 will be analyzed by microscopic examination. We hope the results will lead to a better understanding of the cells predominantly responsible for skeletal defects in NF1 and lead to new strategies for treating this patient population.

    Ongoing laboratory studies include:

    • Basic science studies
    • Biomechanical/instrumentation studies

    Children speak: What's it like to be a medical research subject?

    View a video of a day in the life of Children’s Clinical and Translational Study Unit, through the eyes of children who are “giving back” to science. 

  • Patient Stories

    Scoliosis surgery: from tears to smiles
    When Taylor Gomes found out she needed surgery to treat her #scoliosisshe was understandably scared. But keeping close communication with her Boston Children's doctor, Michael Glotzbecker, made things far less overwhelming.

    Straight talk on scoliosis: How I came to embrace the brace
    Chloe says her scoliosis can be hard to deal with at times, but ultimately makes her a stronger person. Since beginning treatment with Boston Children's Timothy Hresko, Chloe has organized a support group for teens with #scoliosis and stays active by skiing and running! Read her inspiring blog where she describes how she's turning struggle into positivity and learning to #EmbraceTheBrace

    Visceria Givans: Living with scoliosis
    Visceria Givans is a student athlete, diagnosed with scoliosis in grade school. She received corrective spine surgery at Boston Children's Hospital and a few years later and is actively playing sports again.

    Anjellina Guiliano: Around the bend
    For most children with scoliosis, the path to recovery is marked by simple observation and bracing. But when one patient battles two curves, her path - and spine - take an unexpected turn.

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