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Background: Long waiting lists in the NHS are a cause for public concern especially with regards to progressive conditions like scoliosis. We reviewed records to 61 patients to ascertain whether waiting time had any detrimental influence on their surgical management.

Methods: Retrospective review. Assessment of clinical records and radiographs of 61 patients who had scoliosis surgery over past two years was done by two independent investigators. Patient demographics, waiting times between referral and outpatient review and waiting time for surgery were collected.

Results: There were 41 females and 20 males with mean age of 11.8 years (range, 1– 22 years). Thirty-four patients had thoracic curves (28- right sided), 21 had thoracolumbar curves (19- right sided) and 6 patients had right sided lumbar curves. Mean Cobb angle at presentation was 58° (range,17°–90°) which increased to 71°(range, 30°–120°) at surgery. Average waiting time to be seen in the clinic was 16 months. Average waiting time for surgery was 10 months. Rapid curve progression was seen in twelve patients (20%), of which 10 required more extensive surgery than originally planned. Their mean Cobb angle at presentation was 48° (range, 45°– 80°), which increased to a mean of 59° at surgery (range, 50°–92°). At presentation their Risser grades were: 5 – grade 0, 3- grade 2, 2- grade 4. These 10 patients had waited averagely 7.8 months to be seen in the clinic and for 11 months to have the surgery.

Conclusion: Significant curve progression occurred in 20 % of patients waiting to have scoliosis surgery. Ten of those required much more extensive surgery than originally planned. Long waiting times therefore have a detrimental effect on the surgical management of scoliosis patients.

The abstracts were prepared by Mr Colin E. Bruce. Correspondence should be addressed to Colin E. Bruce, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Eaton Road, Liverpool, L12 2AP.


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