Neurosurgical management of spinal dysraphism and neurogenic scoliosis

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2009 Aug 1;34(17):1775-82. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e3181b07914.


Study design: To review diagnosis and treatment of neurogenic factors implicated in the development of progressive scoliosis.

Objective: Increased awareness of neurogenic causes as a contributing component of spinal cord tethering has led to enhanced radiographic surveillance for etiologic factors contributing to the genesis of scoliosis. Review of various manifestations of spinal dysraphism offers better definition of clinical indications for surveillance MRI scans and thus may contribute to improving outcomes for affected individuals.

Summary of background data: Increasing utilization of surveillance MRI has led to a greater awareness of neurogenic causes as contributing factors in the setting of scoliosis. It is imperative for clinicians treating individuals with scoliosis to be aware of the most common etiologies of neurogenic factors as well as be cognizant of the neurosurgical approaches to treating these conditions in a pre-emptive fashion. This will serve to minimize potential neurological complications and offer improved surgical outcomes after instrumentation.

Methods: Current therapeutic approaches were outlined for various etiologies of neurogenic scoliosis as well as neurosurgical management of the tethered cord, spinal cord tumors in addition to current challenges surrounding Chiari malformations and syringomyelia.

Results: Timely recognition of these frequently progressive conditions may not only prevent irreversible neurologic compromise but may also help to ameliorate or stabilize concurrent scoliosis. Tethered cords are best treated by releasing the affected cord and offers the best opportunity to stabilize or improve the scoliosis. Syringomyelia, often associated with a Chiari malformation, is a well-known progenitor of scoliosis, and addressing the underlying cause with a Chiari decompression frequently leads to a reduction or resolution of the syrinx and may result in a concomitant improvement in scoliosis.

Conclusion: Surveillance MRI should be undertaken for scoliosis when there are clinical indications consistent for a tethered cord, spinal cord tumor, or Chiari malformation and associated syringomyelia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arnold-Chiari Malformation / complications
  • Arnold-Chiari Malformation / pathology
  • Arnold-Chiari Malformation / surgery
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / standards
  • Neural Tube Defects / complications
  • Neural Tube Defects / pathology
  • Neural Tube Defects / surgery
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / methods
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / standards
  • Preoperative Care / methods
  • Preoperative Care / standards
  • Scoliosis / etiology
  • Scoliosis / pathology*
  • Scoliosis / surgery
  • Spinal Dysraphism / complications
  • Spinal Dysraphism / pathology*
  • Spinal Dysraphism / surgery
  • Spine / abnormalities
  • Spine / pathology*
  • Spine / surgery
  • Syringomyelia / complications
  • Syringomyelia / pathology
  • Syringomyelia / surgery