Aim: The expert evidence of operated patients with idiopathic scoliosis is determined by functional and pulmonary restriction. The degree of deformity and the extent of fusion is crucial for grading disability. In a retrospective study on the quality of life (SF-36) and low back pain (Roland-Morris Score) of 82 patients (22 - 40 years) with idiopathic scoliosis treated with Harrington instrumentation the grading was registered.
Method: An average of 16.7 years after the surgery, these data were correlated with the type and size of curve and to the extension of fusion.
Results: Compared to the age-matched healthy population, there was no significant difference in the physical SF-36 scale (P = 0.98). Surgically treated patients showed significantly lower scores than at baseline in the psychological SF-36 scale (P = 0.005). Sixty-five (79.3 %) of the eighty-two patients reported no or occasional back pain in the Roland Index. Five patients (6.1 %) complained of chronic back pain. 33 patients (40 %) were legally defined in their rate of disability as severely handicapped patients. The grading disability was associated with the physical SF-36 scale (P < 0.001) and the low back pain (P = 0.02). A significant correlation between the grading disability and the extent of fusion (P = 0.53) or the size of curve (p = 0.4) could not be proven.
Conclusion: Despite good long-term outcomes, 40 % of operated treated patients with idiopathic scoliosis were legally defined as severely handicapped persons. The additional measurements of quality of life and low-back pain can improve legal assessment in orthopaedics.