Abnormal skeletal growth patterns in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis--a longitudinal study until skeletal maturity

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2012 Aug 15;37(18):E1148-54. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e31825c036d.


Study design: A cross-sectional and prospective longitudinal study on the anthropometric parameters and growth pattern of girls with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS).

Objective: To investigate the growth pattern of girls with AIS with different severities, using cross-sectional and prospective longitudinal data set in comparison with age-matched healthy controls.

Summary of background data: AIS occurs in children during their pubertal growth spurt. Although there is no clear consensus on the difference in body height between girls with AIS and healthy controls, it is generally thought that the development and curve progression in girls with AIS is closely associated with their growth rate. There is no concrete prospective longitudinal study to document clearly the growth pattern and growth rate of subjects with AIS .

Methods: A total of 611 girls with AIS and 296 healthy age-matched controls were included in the study and among them, 194 girls with AIS and 116 healthy controls were followed up until skeletal maturity. The girls with AIS were grouped into moderate (AIS20) and severe curve (AIS40) groups on the basis of maximum curve magnitude at skeletal maturity. Clinical data and detailed anthropometric parameters were recorded. In the cross-sectional analysis, the groups of subjects were compared within different age groups (from the age of 12-16 yr). In the longitudinal study, linear mixed modeling with respect to age or years since menarche was employed to formulate the growth trajectory of different anthropometric parameters.

Results: In the cross-sectional analysis, the girls with AIS were generally taller, with longer arm span and lower body mass index than the healthy controls. The girls with AIS40 were found to be significantly shorter in height (P = 0.006) and arm span (P = 0.025) at the age of 12 years but caught up and overtook the control group at the age of 14 to 16 years. In the longitudinal study, the average growth rate of arm span in girls with AIS40 was significantly higher than that in girls with AIS20 (> 30%) (P = 0.004) and controls (> 70%) (P = 0.0004). The age of menarche of girls with AIS40 was significantly delayed by 5.9 months and 3.8 months when compared with the control group and girls with AIS20, respectively (P < 0.05).

Conclusion: The growth patterns of girls with AIS with confirmed curve severities were significantly different from healthy age-matched controls. Girls with severe AIS had delayed menarche with faster skeletal growth rate during the age of 12 to 16 years. Monitoring the rate of change of arm span of girls with AIS could be an important additional clinical parameter in helping predict curve severity in girls with AIS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anthropometry / methods
  • Body Height*
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Body Weight*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Menarche
  • Prospective Studies
  • Scoliosis / pathology
  • Scoliosis / physiopathology*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Spine / pathology
  • Spine / physiopathology
  • Time Factors