Prospectively collected surgeon indications for discontinuation of a lengthening program for early-onset scoliosis

Spine Deform. 2020 Feb;8(1):129-133. doi: 10.1007/s43390-020-00048-x. Epub 2020 Jan 24.


Introduction: At some point after children with early-onset scoliosis (EOS) undergo implantation of a distraction construct to control deformity and promote growth, a decision is made to discontinue lengthening. The purpose of this study was to evaluate surgeon indications for discontinuation of a lengthening program and to evaluate patient outcomes.

Methods: As a part of a multicenter database, surgeons prospectively completed a questionnaire at the completion of growth-friendly treatment. Surgeon indications for discontinuation included patient age, pain/functional status, implant status, and spinal deformity parameters. Patient demographics, scoliosis type, deformity parameters, and length of time in a growing program were queried. Patients were treated with a final fusion or observation, and rate of secondary surgeries was analyzed.

Results: Questionnaires were completed on 121 patients (61% female). EOS etiology was 31% neuromuscular, 43% congenital, 16% idiopathic, and 10% syndromic. Average age at initiation of growing program was 6.8 ± 3.1 years, and average age at discontinuation was 12.7 ± 2.5 years. The most commonly cited indications for discontinuation of a lengthening program included bone age/skeletal maturity (n = 46), patient age (n = 33), and diminishing returns with expansions (n = 33). A larger coronal Cobb angle was found in patients who underwent definitive fusion (65°) when compared with continued observation (55°, p = 0.001). Twenty-nine (24%) patients were initially treated with observation after completion of a growing construct. In this subgroup, at a minimum of 2 years' (average 3.8 years') follow-up, 26/29 (90%) patients remained stable with observation alone; whereas, three (10%) underwent delayed final fusion surgery.

Conclusions: The most common surgeon-cited indications for discontinuation of a lengthening program in EOS patients are skeletal maturity and patient age. The majority of patients (76%) underwent definitive spinal fusion after discontinuation of a lengthening program; whereas, those treated with observation alone had a survivorship of 90% at a minimum follow-up of two years.

Keywords: Early-onset scoliosis; Final fusion; Lengthening.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Bone Lengthening / methods*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Scoliosis / therapy*
  • Spinal Fusion
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Withholding Treatment*