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A 2002 study by Goldberg et al showed that surgery before age 10 for infantile onset idiopathic scoliosis (diagnosis < 4 years, Cobb angle => 10°) preserved neither respiratory function nor cosmesis, and has not been contradicted. In 2005, Mehta re-emphasised scoliosis correction by serial cast-bracing, while Thompson et al reported satisfactory results with growing rods. An analysis of the status quo of a cohort of patients with infantile idiopathic scoliosis (other diagnoses and syndromes excluded), managed by cast-bracing, was undertaken, asking whether interim progress was acceptable or demanded a change of protocol.

Of 35 patients born between October 1993 and December 2002,15 have completely resolved, age at diagnosis 1.6 ± 0.96 years, Cobb angle 20.3°±11.9, RVAD 11.1°±13.8, latest age 4.1± 2.3. 20 were prescribed cast-bracing, age at diagnosis 1.8±0.9 years, Cobb angle 47.3°±12.6, RVAD 29.6±24.5, age at treatment was 2.1±1.0 years. Cobb angle (p< 0.001) and RVAD (p=0.001) were larger in the treated group, but age at presentation was the same (p=0.473). Surgery was performed on 3 children unresponsive to initial casting, at ages 3.2, 3.6 and 3.7, and in 3 at ages 8.6, 10.1 and 11 years. 3 children, aged 6.0, 8.1 and 11.3 are out of brace with straight spines and 11 are stable in brace.

Infantile idiopathic scoliosis seems programmed to resolve or progress according to initial severity and in line with growth rate. Those who respond to casting in infancy generally remain stable until near puberty when surgery is uncontroversial. Those who progress relentlessly and immediately in cast remain the issue, as reports of newer methods include a wide range of ages and diagnoses and give their outcome in terms of Cobb angle only. It has not yet been shown that any treatment will alter their prognosis so constant analysis of all outcome parameters is essential.

Correspondence should be addressed to: Sue Woodward, Secreteriat, Britspine, Vale Clinic, Hensol Park, Vale of Glamorgan, CF72 8JY Wales.