Back Pain and Outcomes of Pregnancy After Instrumented Spinal Fusion for Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis

Pawel Grabala, Ilkka Helenius, Jacob M. Buchowski, Annalise Noelle Larson, Suken A. Shah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objective: We hypothesized that women undergoing scoliosis surgery who became pregnant would go to full term, have uncomplicated pregnancies, and similar patient-reported outcome measures than non-pregnant patients and healthy controls. Methods: Two hundred five women with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) undergoing scoliosis surgery between 1998 and 2015 at several institutions in 1 country and 173 healthy women, without AIS, parous and nulliparous, were selected at random. Results: One hundred eight women with scoliosis surgery and no pregnancy (SNP), 97 women with scoliosis surgery and pregnancy (SP), 91 healthy controls and no pregnancy, and 82 healthy controls and pregnancy (HP) were reviewed. Mean follow-up was 5 years in the SNP, 6 years in the SP, 5 years in the healthy controls and no pregnancy, and 5 years in the HP. The average time from surgery to childbirth was 5 years. Back pain (BP) during pregnancy was observed in 48% of the SP and 34% of the HP. BP after childbirth was present in 43% of the SP and 42% of the HP. Patients fused to L3 or L4 experienced more frequent low BP during pregnancy (40%) than those fused above L3 (P < 0.05). Cesarean section (CS) was performed for 64% and 33% in SP and HP, respectively (P < 0.05). As the lowest instrumented vertebra moved caudal to L4, the frequency of CS increased (P < 0.05; R = 0.8). The majority of CS in SP were performed in patients fused to L4 (55%) versus patients fused above and to L3 (45%) (P < 0.05). The most common analgesia for CS was spinal block (75% in SP and 86% in HP). Patients fused to L4 required general anesthesia significantly more often (7%) versus those fused above L4 (4%, P < 0.05). The health-related quality of life after spinal fusion showed general satisfaction and were similar for SNP and SP (mean 3.84 and 3.91, respectively). No sexual dysfunction was reported. Conclusions: Women with a history of spinal fusion for AIS fused to L3 or L4 reported a higher incidence of low BP, and CSs are more frequently required. This risk increased to 55% when spinal fusion to L4 was performed. The quality of life and sexual function were at the same level in women after scoliosis surgery than in healthy controls.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e404-e410
JournalWorld neurosurgery
StatePublished - Apr 2019


  • AIS
  • Back pain
  • Cesarean section
  • Scoliosis and pregnancy
  • Scoliosis surgery


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