How is idiopathic scoliosis classified?

Updated: Dec 02, 2020
  • Author: Charles T Mehlman, DO, MPH; Chief Editor: Jeffrey A Goldstein, MD  more...
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Answer

James is credited with classifying idiopathic scoliosis according to the age of the patient at the time of diagnosis. [8] In his classification system, children diagnosed when they are younger than 3 years have infantile idiopathic scoliosis, those diagnosed when they are aged 3-10 years have juvenile idiopathic scoliosis, and those diagnosed when they are older than 10 years have adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.

These age distinctions, though seemingly arbitrary, have prognostic significance. For instance, Robinson and McMaster reviewed 109 patients with juvenile idiopathic scoliosis and found that nearly 90% of curves progressed, and almost 70% of these patients went on to require surgery. [9] These rates are much higher than the rates associated with other categories of idiopathic scoliosis. The real challenge is to predict which curves will progress significantly and which ones will not. [10] This is discussed in greater detail later in this article.


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