The role of serial casting in early-onset scoliosis (EOS)

J Pediatr Orthop. 2012 Oct-Nov;32(7):658-63. doi: 10.1097/BPO.0b013e318269c438.


Background: Serial casting has demonstrated efficacy for idiopathic early-onset scoliosis (EOS). Results of casting in nonidiopathic (syndromic and congenital) EOS patients have not previously been well described.

Methods: A total of 53 patients underwent serial casting for EOS from 2005 to 2010 at a single institution. Deformity was classified as idiopathic or nonidiopathic. Diagnosis, time in cast, number of casts, use of bracing, complications, and outcomes were recorded. Radiographic measures included Cobb angle and thoracic height (T1-T12). Thoracic height velocity was calculated and compared with established norms.

Results: A total of 36 patients, 19 idiopathic and 17 nonidiopathic (14 syndromic, 3 congenital), completed cast treatment and had >6-month follow-up and were therefore included. Of those, 17% (6/36) experienced resolution of their deformity, 53% (19/26) are currently in braces, and 31% (11/36) had undergone surgery. Surgery occurred on average at age 5.6 years and was delayed by an average of 2.1 years from time of first cast. A 19% complication was observed. There was no statistical difference in the rate of resolution of deformity between idiopathic (5/19) and nonidiopathic (1/17) patients (P=0.182), although there exists a trend toward greater curve correction in idiopathic patients. Surgery occurred in fewer patients (2/19) in the idiopathic group compared with the nonidiopathic group (9/17) (P=0.006). Significant improvements in Cobb angle was observed in the idiopathic group (12.2 degrees) during casting (P=0.003). Nonidiopathic patients did not maintain the correction gained during casting at the time of final follow-up. T1-T12 height increased across all study patients regardless of etiology during the period of casting at similar velocity to established norms of 1.4 cm/y for this age group.

Conclusions: Serial casting offers modest deformity correction in idiopathic deformities compared with nonidiopathic deformities. Thoracic height growth continued throughout the casting period at normal velocity. Serial casting maintained normal longitudinal thoracic growth in all patients with EOS in this cohort. Although many required surgery, the increased thoracic height may have positive implications on ultimate pulmonary function.

Level of evidence: Therapeutic level III.

MeSH terms

  • Age of Onset
  • Casts, Surgical*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Radiography
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Scoliosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Scoliosis / physiopathology
  • Scoliosis / surgery*
  • Thoracic Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Thoracic Vertebrae / growth & development*