Scoliosis Screening

J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2021 May 1;29(9):370-379. doi: 10.5435/JAAOS-D-20-00356.


The national recommendations for school screening programs for scoliosis in the United States have undergone a shift in perspective over the past two decades. In 2004, the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommended against screening programs but changed its recommendation to be inconclusive in 2018. Early diagnosis of scoliosis can allow for close monitoring of the deformity and early initiation of bracing treatment when appropriate, with the goal of preventing costly and invasive surgical intervention. Several different diagnostic tools are available, including Adam's forward bending test alone, Adam's forward bending test with scoliometry, the humpometer, and Moiré topography, each with varying degrees of sensitivity and specificity. Controversy prevails over the cost efficacy of screening programs and possible unnecessary exposure of adolescents to radiation for confirmatory radiographs after a positive screening test. However, the recent definitive evidence of bracing treatment efficacy in slowing the progression of scoliotic curves and preventing the need for surgery indicates that school screening programs may still have a role in allowing early diagnosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Braces
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening
  • Scoliosis* / diagnosis
  • Scoliosis* / therapy
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • United States