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Surgical and conservative treatment of patients with congenital scoliosis: α search for long-term results

Angelos Kaspiris1*, Theodoros B Grivas2, Hans-Rudolf Weiss3 and Deborah Turnbull4

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Trauma and Orthopaedics,"Thriasio" General Hospital - NHS, G. Gennimata av, Magoula 19600, Attica, Greece

2 Department of Trauma and Orthopedics, Scoliosis Clinic,"Tzanio" General Hospital - NHS, Tzani and Afendouli 1 st,Piraeus 18536, Greece

3 Orthopedic Rehabilitation Services Alzeyer Str. 23, D - 55457 Gensingen, Germany

4 Clayponds Hospital, Ealing PCT, Sterling Place W134RN, London, UK

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Scoliosis 2011, 6:12  doi:10.1186/1748-7161-6-12

Published: 4 June 2011



In view of the limited data available on the conservative treatment of patients with congenital scoliosis (CS), early surgery is suggested in mild cases with formation failures. Patients with segmentation failures will not benefit from conservative treatment. The purpose of this review is to identify the mid- or long-term results of spinal fusion surgery in patients with congenital scoliosis.


Retrospective and prospective studies were included, reporting on the outcome of surgery in patients with congenital scoliosis. Studies concerning a small numbers of cases treated conservatively were included too. We analyzed mid-term (5 to 7 years) and long-term results (7 years or more), both as regards the maintenance of the correction of scoliosis and the safety of instrumentation, the early and late complications of surgery and their effect on quality of life.


A small number of studies of surgically treated patients were found, contained follow-up periods of 4-6 years that in the most cases, skeletal maturity was not yet reached, and few with follow-up of 36-44 years. The results of bracing in children with congenital scoliosis, mainly in cases with failure of formation, were also studied.


Spinal surgery in patients with congenital scoliosis is regarded in short as a safe procedure and should be performed. On the other hand, early and late complications are also described, concerning not only intraoperative and immediate postoperative problems, but also the safety and efficacy of the spinal instrumentation and the possibility of developing neurological disorders and the long-term effect these may have on both lung function and the quality of life of children.


Few cases indicate the long-term results of surgical techniques, in the natural progression of scoliosis. Similarly, few cases have been reported on the influence of conservative treatment.

In conclusion, patients with segmentation failures should be treated surgically early, according to the rate of deformity formation and certainly before the pubertal growth spurt to try to avoid cor- pulmonale, even though there is lack of evidence for that in the long-term. Furthermore, in patients with formation failures, further investigation is needed to document where a conservative approach would be necessary.