Idiopathic scoliosis

Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2010 Dec;107(49):875-83; quiz 884. doi: 10.3238/arztebl.2010.0875. Epub 2010 Dec 10.


Background: Scoliosis is a three-dimensional deviation of the spinal axis. The main diagnostic criterion is spinal curvature exceeding 10° on a plain anteroposterior X-ray image. Scoliosis is called idiopathic when no other underlying disease can be identified.

Methods: Selective literature review and recommendations of the relevant medical societies in Germany and abroad.

Results: Scoliosis in children of school age and above primarily occurs in girls. Its prevalence is 1% to 2% among adolescents, but more than 50% among persons over age 60. The therapeutic goal in children is to prevent progression. In children, scoliosis of 20° or more should be treated with a brace, and scoliosis of 45° or more with surgery. The treatment of adults with scoliosis is determined on an individual basis, with physiotherapy and braces playing a relatively minor role. Adults (even elderly adults) who have scoliosis and sagittal imbalance may be best served by surgical treatment.

Conclusion: Scoliosis is common. Early diagnosis makes a major difference in the choice of treatment.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods*
  • Diagnostic Imaging / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Scoliosis / diagnosis*
  • Scoliosis / epidemiology
  • Scoliosis / therapy*
  • Young Adult