Surgery for the Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis Patients After Skeletal Maturity: Early Versus Late Surgery.



Informed decision making for operative treatment of the skeletally mature adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) patient meeting surgical indications requires a discussion of differences in operative morbidity in adult scoliosis versus AIS. This study evaluated differences in operative data and outcomes between AIS and adult scoliosis patients based on an estimated natural history of curve progression.


Twenty-eight adult scoliosis patients (43.7 ± 15.8 years; 93% F) were 1:2 matched with 56 (Risser 4/5) AIS patients (15.7 ± 2.1 years) based on gender and curve type as vetted by 5 surgeons' consensus in committee. Curve progression of 0.3°/year for the first 10 years following skeletal maturity and a 0.5°/year thereafter was assumed to estimate curve progression from AIS to adulthood for the adult counterpart. Operative data, complications, and quality of life (Scoliosis Research Society [SRS-22r] questionnaire) measures were evaluated, with a minimum 2-year follow-up.


Postoperative major Cobb and percentage correction were similar between adult versus AIS, whereas operative time, percentage estimated blood loss (EBL; % total blood volume), length of hospital stay (LOS), and total spine levels fused were greater for adult patients (p < .05). No difference was found in EBL, operative time, or LOS when normalized by levels fused. Ten (36%) adult scoliosis patients were fused to the pelvis compared with none in AIS (p < .0001). Major complication rate was higher for adult versus AIS (25% vs. 5.4%; p < .05). Preoperative SRS-22r scores were worse for adult patients; however, they demonstrated greater improvement in SRS-22r than the AIS cohort at final follow-up. A higher percentage of adult patients reached the MCID in self-image domain than the AIS patients (92.3% vs. 61.8%; p = .0040).


Treatment of the adult scoliosis patient who has undergone an estimated natural history of progression is characterized by greater levels fused, operative time, and higher complication rates than the AIS counterpart. Longer-term follow-up of AIS is needed to define the benefits of early intervention of relatively asymptomatic adolescent patients versus late treatment of symptomatic disease in the adult.





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Publication Info

Lonner, Baron S, Yuan Ren, Shay Bess, Michael Kelly, Han Jo Kim, Burt Yaszay, Virginie Lafage, Michelle Marks, et al. (2019). Surgery for the Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis Patients After Skeletal Maturity: Early Versus Late Surgery. Spine deformity, 7(1). pp. 84–92. 10.1016/j.jspd.2018.05.012 Retrieved from

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Christopher Ignatius Shaffrey

Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery

I have more than 25 years of experience treating patients of all ages with spinal disorders. I have had an interest in the management of spinal disorders since starting my medical education. I performed residencies in both orthopaedic surgery and neurosurgery to gain a comprehensive understanding of the entire range of spinal disorders. My goal has been to find innovative ways to manage the range of spinal conditions, straightforward to complex. I have a focus on managing patients with complex spinal disorders. My patient evaluation and management philosophy is to provide engaged, compassionate care that focuses on providing the simplest and least aggressive treatment option for a particular condition. In many cases, non-operative treatment options exist to improve a patient’s symptoms. I have been actively engaged in clinical research to find the best ways to manage spinal disorders in order to achieve better results with fewer complications.

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