Background: Our aim was to compare height velocity data, obtained from clinical height measurements, for girls who had idiopathic scoliosis with the data for adolescents who did not have scoliosis. We also compared the growth data with chronological age, menarchal age, and Risser sign in terms of their accuracy in the prediction of growth and progression of the scoliosis.
Methods: One hundred and twenty of 371 patients in a database of girls managed with a brace for the treatment of idiopathic scoliosis had sufficient height data for us to quantify their growth peak. Height velocity data was generated from standing-height measurements obtained, in a scoliosis clinic, with a minimum six-month interval between measurements, and the timing of peak height velocity was calculated. The age at menarche was recorded from the patients' records. The Risser sign and Cobb angle were determined by a single observer. Progression of the scoliosis was defined as an increase in the Cobb angle of at least 10 degrees, compared with the curve magnitude at the time of the initial evaluation, after a minimum of six months. Progression to a magnitude requiring surgery was defined as progression of at least 10 degrees to a magnitude of 45 degrees or more.
Results: The height velocity plot grouped by peak height velocity showed a high peak and a sharp decline with values similar to those in normal populations. Extrapolating from percentile charts, 90 percent of our patients ceased growing by 3.6 years after peak height velocity. The growth peak was blunted (averaged over too long a period such that the data for the period of most rapid growth was averaged in with that for a period of slower growth) when chronological age, menarchal age, and Risser sign were used to predict growth; this indicated that these maturity scales grouped the patients poorly in terms of growth. The primary curve was progressive in eighty-eight of the 120 patients. Sixty of these patients had a curve of more than 30 degrees at peak height velocity, and in fifty (83 percent) of the sixty the curve progressed to 45 degrees or more. The remaining twenty-eight patients had a curve of 30 degrees or less at peak height velocity, with only one curve (4 percent) progressing to 45 degrees or more. Peak height velocity also grouped patients for maximal progression of the curve more accurately than did the other maturity scales, as most of the curves progressed maximally at peak height velocity. There was a wider spread of timing of maximal progression when chronological age, menarchal age, and Risser sign were used to predict progression.
Conclusions: Height velocities generated from clinical height measurements for patients with idiopathic scoliosis document the growth peak and predict cessation of growth reliably. Knowing the timing of the growth peak provides valuable information on the likelihood of progression to a magnitude requiring spinal arthrodesis.