[Characteristics in the treatment of scoliosis in muscular diseases]

Z Orthop Ihre Grenzgeb. 1997 Mar-Apr;135(2):95-105. doi: 10.1055/s-2008-1039563.
[Article in German]


Introduction: Patients suffering from the most frequent muscle disorders Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and spinal muscular atrophies (SMA), who ceased walking respectively are confined from the outset to the wheel-chair, are developing commonly a progressive scoliosis (collapsing spine) due to an increasing muscle weakness. Basing on the pelvic obliquity these scolioses are leading first of all to problems in sitting as well as difficulties in trunk and head control. Along with the increasing weakness of respiratory muscles these phenomena entail a restrictive respiratory insufficiency.

Conservative treatment: An effective conservative treatment is not available for these scolioses. The use of a corset, however, can only be taken into consideration as a compromise, either for very young patients or those who refused an operation respectively who have reached an inoperable stage. The exclusive use of so-called "anatomic sitting supports" in the wheel-chair in order to treat or prevent a progressive scoliosis in DMD or SMA is absolutely to be rejected. They should only be applied for very young patients with SMA type II as a transitional solution until a corset or better an surgical stabilisation of the spine will be effected, or as a palliative measure in late stages.

Surgical treatment: Only the early as possible performed surgical stabilisation of the spine using adequate instrumentation (Luque, CD or modifications), enabling an early mobilization without corset or cast, is the most effective treatment of these scoliosis. Patients with DMD or SMA type III should be stabilized after loss of walking ability and definitive confinement to wheel-chair, if the curve is more than 20 degrees-30 degrees Cobb and progressive and forced vital capacity (FVC) is > 35%. The instrumentation should be applied between D3 or D4 and sacrum. The bony fusion mass should include the lumbar and lumbosacral region. The unfused instrumentation with the telescope-rod after Naumann is a good solution for patients with SMA type II and progressive curves already in the early childhood from ca. 5 years of age. First of all surgical spinal stabilisation improves the sitting comfort. Over and above this the improved cosmetic appearance should not be underestimated for the psychological condition of these patients. Additionally it is proved, that surgical stabilisation of the spine prolongs the life expectancy of patients with DMD. Furthermore stabilization of lung function can be achieved for both DMD and SMA patients in comparison to the natural history of these diseases. Altogether a decisive improvement of quality of life can be reached for all these patients.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Internal Fixators
  • Muscular Atrophy, Spinal / complications*
  • Muscular Dystrophies / complications*
  • Orthotic Devices
  • Quality of Life
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / etiology
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / rehabilitation
  • Scoliosis / etiology*
  • Scoliosis / surgery
  • Scoliosis / therapy*
  • Spinal Fusion / methods