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Intraspinal anomalies in early-onset idiopathic scoliosis

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In the United Kingdom, lower incidences of intraspinal abnormalities in patients with early onset idiopathic scoliosis have been observed than in studies in other countries. We aimed to determine the rates of these abnormalities in United Kingdom patients diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis before the age of 11 years.

Patients and Methods

This retrospective study of patients attending an urban scoliosis clinic identified 71 patients satisfying a criteria of: clinical diagnosis of idiopathic scoliosis; age of onset ten years and 11 months or less; MRI screening for intraspinal abnormalities. United Kingdom census data combined with patient referral data was used to calculate incidence.


Mean age at diagnosis was six years with 39 right-sided and 32 left-sided curves. Four patients (5.6%) were found to have intraspinal abnormalities on MRI. These consisted of: two combined Arnold-Chiari type 1 malformations with syrinx; one syrinx with a low lying conus; and one isolated syrinx. Overall annual incidence of early onset idiopathic scoliosis was one out of 182 000 (0.0006%).


This study reports the lowest rates to date of intraspinal anomalies in patients with early onset idiopathic scoliosis, adding to knowledge regarding current incidences of these abnormalities as well as any geographical variation in the nature of the disease.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2017;99-B:829–33.

Correspondence should be sent to E. A. C. Pereira; email:

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