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.