Early Onset Scoliosis refers to cases of spinal deformity, scoliosis (abnormal curvature of the spine), that present in children 10 years of age and younger.
Causes of Early Onset Scoliosis
There are a number of different types of Early Onset Scoliosis, with each having a specific set of causes.
- Idiopathic – Curves for which there is no apparent cause.
- Congenital – Vertebrae develop incorrectly in-utero. It is sometimes associated with cardiac and renal abnormalities. Evaluation may include studies of heart and kidneys.
- Neuromuscular – In children with neuromuscular disorders including spinal muscular atrophy, cerebral palsy, spina bifida and brain or spinal cord injury.
- Syndromic – Certain syndromes, such as Marfans, Ehlers-Danlos and other connective tissue disorders, as well as neurofibromatosis, Prader-Willi, and many bone dysplasias may be associated with EOS.
EOS, or Early Onset Scoliosis Issues
EOS, depending on the severity, can be associated with heart and lung problems in childhood which can cause any number of issues as the child advanced into their adult years. When untreated, severe EOS can be associated with an increased risk of early death due to heart and lung disease. The combined spine, heart and lung issues that are associated with this is known as Thoracic Insufficiency Syndrome (TIS).
In order to identify early onset scoliosis patients with generally need an X-Ray, and an MRI can help further the diagnosis.
The goals of Early Onset Scoliosis treatment are to:
- Minimize spinal deformity over the life of the patient.
- Maximize lung function over the life of the patient.
- Minimize the extent of any final spinal fusion.
- Maximize motion of chest and spine.
- Minimize complications, procedures, hospitalizations and burden for the family.
- Consider overall development of the child.
Patients with EOS must be monitored throughout their lives by a doctor to determine any worsening of the spinal curve and to account for any progression being made. The most common treatment options are:
- Bracing or Casting:
Bracing or casting may help by allowing growth while minimizing increases in the scoliosis. The need for surgery may be delayed and, in some instances, avoided. Bracing or casting congenital scoliosis is rarely effective, but they help to control minor issues.
Surgery is generally the recommended treatment protocol for EOS and is done after a bracing or casting program generally fails or runs its course. The main goal of such spinal surgery is to minimize any curvature but also allow for future growth, and spinal development. Various growth-friendly surgeries are designed to follow the principles of EOS treatment outlined earlier, allowing the spine and lungs to grow while controlling spine and lung deformity.
If your child is suffering from EOS, be sure to contact Dr. Roger Widmann today and schedule your consultation.