Background: Congenital scoliosis is a failure of vertebral formation, segmentation, or a combination of the 2 arising from abnormal vertebral development during weeks 4 to 6 of gestation. The associated spinal deformity can be of varying severity and result in a stable or progressive deformity based on the type and location of the anomalous vertebra(e). Bracing for congenital scoliosis is rarely indicated, while recent reports have demonstrated the utility of serial derotational casting for longer curves with multiple anomalous vertebrae as an effective "time buying strategy" to delay the need for surgery. Earlier hemivertebra excision and short-segment posterior spinal fusion have been advocated to prevent future curve progression of the deformity and/or the development of large compensatory curves. It has been shown in recent long-term follow-up studies that growth rates of the vertebral body and spinal canal are not as dramatically affected by pedicle screw instrumentation at a young age as once thought. Growth friendly surgery with either spine-based or rib-based anchors has demonstrated good results with curve correction while maintaining spinal growth. Rib-based anchors are typically more commonly indicated in the setting of chest wall abnormalities and/or when spinal anatomy precludes placement of spinal instrumentation. Recently, magnetically controlled growing rods have shown promising results in several studies that include a small subset of congenital scoliosis cases.
Methods: A literature search was performed to identify existing studies related to the treatment of congenital scoliosis published from January 1, 2005 to June 1, 2016. Databases included PubMed, Medline, and the Cochrane Library. The search was limited to English articles and yielded 36 papers. This project was initiated by the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America Publications Committee and was reviewed and approved by the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America Presidential Line.
Results: A total of 36 papers were selected for review based upon new findings. Classic manuscripts on congenital scoliosis are also included to provide sufficient background information.
Conclusions: Congenital scoliosis represents a wide range of pathology from the simple, stable hemivertebra to the complex, progressive spinal deformity with chest wall abnormalities and associated cardiac, renal, and neural axis anomalies. This paper reviews the natural history and associated anomalies with congenital scoliosis as well as the most up-to-date classification schemes and various treatment options for the care of this challenging patient population.
Level of evidence: Level 5.