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Children's Orthopaedics

Supine flexibility predicts curve progression for patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis undergoing underarm bracing

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The aim of this study was to assess whether supine flexibility predicts the likelihood of curve progression in patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) undergoing brace treatment.


This was a retrospective analysis of patients with AIS prescribed with an underarm brace between September 2008 to April 2013 and followed up until 18 years of age or required surgery. Patients with structural proximal curves that preclude underarm bracing, those who were lost to follow-up, and those who had poor compliance to bracing (<16 hours a day) were excluded. The major curve Cobb angle, curve type, and location were measured on the pre-brace standing posteroanterior (PA) radiograph, supine whole spine radiograph, initial in-brace standing PA radiograph, and the post-brace weaning standing PA radiograph. Validation of the previous in-brace Cobb angle regression model was performed. The outcome of curve progression post-bracing was tested using a logistic regression model. The supine flexibility cut-off for curve progression was analyzed with receiver operating characteristic curve.


A total of 586 patients with mean age of 12.6 years (SD 1.2) remained for analysis after exclusion. The baseline Cobb angle was similar for thoracic major curves (31.6° (SD 3.8°)) and lumbar major curves (30.3° (SD 3.7°)). Curve progression was more common in the thoracic curves than lumbar curves with mean final Cobb angles of 40.5° (SD 12.5°) and 31.8° (SD 9.8°) respectively. This dataset matched the prediction model for in-brace Cobb angle with less mean absolute error in thoracic curves (0.61) as compared to lumbar curves (1.04). Reduced age and Risser stage, thoracic curves, increased pre-brace Cobb angle, and reduced correction and flexibility rates predicted increased likelihood of curve progression. Flexibility rate of more than 28% has likelihood of preventing curve progression with bracing.


Supine radiographs provide satisfactory prediction for in-brace correction and post-bracing curve magnitude. The flexibility of the curve is a guide to determine the likelihood for brace success.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2020;102-B(2):254–260.

Correspondence should be sent to J. P. Y. Cheung; email:

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