Background: Data comparing different braces for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) are scant. The SRS criteria represent some guidelines for comparing results from different studies, but controlled studies are much more reliable. Recently, super-rigid braces have been introduced in clinical practice with the aim of replacing Risser and EDF casts. The aim of the present study is to compare the short-term radiographic results of two super-rigid braces, the ART and the SPORT (Sforzesco) brace.
Methods: A group of consecutive patients with Cobb >40°, Risser 0-4, age >10 treated with the ART brace for 6 months were matched with a group of similar patients taken from a prospective database of patients treated with the Sforzesco brace. Patients were matched according to Cobb severity, pattern and localization of the curve. All patients had a full-time brace prescription (23-24 hours per day) and an indication to perform scoliosis-specific exercises and were assessed radiographically both immediately in the brace and after 6 months of treatment out of brace. Curves were analyzed according to the pattern and localization taking into consideration both the in-brace correction and the 6-month out-of-brace results.
Statistical analysis: t-test, ANOVA, linear regression, alpha set at 0.05.
Results: Twenty-six patients were included in the ART brace group, and 26 in the Sforzesco brace group. At baseline, no differences were noted for gender (3 males for each group), age (14.1 ± 0.3 for ART vs 13.9 ± 0.3 for Sforzesco), ATR (11.8 ± 3.2 vs 11.5 ± 4.2 for thoracic curves and 7.8 ± 4.0 vs 7.1 ± 6.1 for lumbar/thoracolumbar), Cobb angle (44.8 ± 2 vs 45.5 ± 2 for thoracic; 43.8 ± 2 vs 46.0 ± 2 for lumbar/thoracolumbar) or Risser sign (median 2 for both groups). The in-brace correction was slightly better for the ART brace, but didn't reach statistical significance (24.3 ± 8.5 vs 28.0 ± 6.8 for thoracic; 23.7 ± 10.4 vs 29.9 ± 4.2 for lumbar/thoracolumbar). At 6 months, results were similar both for thoracic (34.4 ± 10.4 vs34.8 ± 6.8) and for lumbar/thoracolumbar (32.8 ± 10.8 vs 36.6 ± 5.2). Also, with regard to the pattern, results were similar for double major and for thoracic, while there were not enough data for single lumbar to make a comparison. No differences for ATR were found (7.8 ± 3.2 vs 8.6 ± 2.9 for thoracic; 4.3 ± 3.4 vs 4.3 ± 3.7 for lumbar/thoracolumbar).
Conclusion: These two super-rigid braces showed similar short-term results, despite the better in-brace correction for lumbar curves shown by the ART brace. According to our data, the asymmetric design showed results similar to the symmetric one. After these preliminary data, further studies are needed to check end growth results and the impact of compliance, rigidity of curve, exercise and assessing quality of life.