Surgical treatment of young adults with idiopathic scoliosis

Corey T. Walker, Nitin Agarwal, Robert K. Eastlack, Gregory M. Mundis, Nima Alan, Tina Iannacone, Behrooz A. Akbarnia, David O. Okonkwo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE In this study, the authors report on their experience with the surgical treatment of young adults with idiopathic scoliosis (YAdISs) who did not have surgical treatment in adolescence but did require intervention after skeletal maturity. METHODS The medical records of YAdISs between 18 and 40 years of age who had been surgically treated at two institutions between 2009 and 2018 were retrospectively evaluated. Pre- and postoperative clinical and radiographic information was gathered and compared at 2 years after treatment. RESULTS Twenty-eight patients (9 male, 19 female) with a median age of 25 years (range 18–40 years) met the study inclusion criteria. Five patients (18%) had postoperative complications, including 2 deep venous thromboses, 1 ileus, and 2 reoperations, one for implant failure and the other for pseudarthrosis. The mean maximum coronal curve angle improved from 43 ± 12 to 17 ± 8 (p < 0.001), but there were no significant differences in sagittal vertical axis, lumbar lordosis, pelvic tilt, or thoracic kyphosis (p > 0.05). There was no relationship between the amount of correction obtained and patient age (p = 0.46). Significant improvements in the Oswestry Disability Index (31 vs 24, p = 0.02), visual analog scale score for both back pain (6.0 vs 4.0, p = 0.01) and leg pain (2.6 vs 1.1, p = 0.02), and self-image score (Δ1.1, p < 0.001) were seen. CONCLUSIONS YAdISs can present with pain, deformity progression, and/or appearance dissatisfaction because of their scoliosis despite successful nonoperative management during adolescence. Once the scoliosis becomes symptomatic, surgical correction can result in significant clinical and radiographic improvements at the 2-year follow-up with a relatively low complication rate compared to that for other types of adult spinal deformity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-90
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Spine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • idiopathic scoliosis
  • malalignment
  • spinal deformity
  • spine surgery
  • young adult


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