Treatment of early-onset scoliosis: techniques, indications, and complications

Chin Med J (Engl). 2020 Feb 5;133(3):351-357. doi: 10.1097/CM9.0000000000000614.


The treatments for early-onset scoliosis (EOS) remain great challenges for spine surgeons. This study aimed to comprehensively review the treatments for EOS, especially the advancements made in the last decade. Current studies on EOS were retrieved through a search on PubMed, UpToDate, the Web of Science Core Collection and Scopus were reviewed. The most pertinent information related to the current treatments for EOS was collected. The foci of treatments for EOS have included creating a well-developed thoracic cavity, improving lung volume, and improving pulmonary function. Conservative treatments include bracing, casting, halo-gravity traction, and physiotherapy. Serial casting is the most effective conservative treatment for EOS. Surgical treatments mainly include growth-friendly techniques, which are generally classified into three types according to the amount of correction force applied: distraction-based, compression-based, and growth-guided. The distraction-based systems include traditional or conventional growing rods, magnetically controlled growing rods, and vertical expandable prosthesis titanium ribs. The compression-based systems include vertebral body stapling and tethering. The growth-guided systems include the Shilla system and modern Luque trolley. In addition, some newer techniques have emerged in recent years, such as posterior dynamic deformity correction (ApiFix). For EOS patients presenting with sharp deformities in a long, congenital spinal deformity, a hybrid technique, one-stage posterior osteotomy with short segmental fusion and dual growing rods, may be a good choice. Hemivertebra resection is the gold standard for congenital scoliosis caused by single hemivertebra. Although the patient's growth potential is preserved in growth-friendly surgeries, a high complication rate should be expected, as well as a prolonged treatment duration and additional costs. Knowledge about EOS and its treatment options is rapidly expanding. Conservative treatments have specific limitations. For curves requiring a surgical intervention, surgical techniques may vary depending on the patients' characteristics, the surgeon's experience, and the actual state of the country.