Diagnosis of Congenital Scoliosis

Dr. Maziar Badii, MD, FRCP, Rheumatologist, discusses diagnosis of congenital scoliosis.

Loading the player...

Dr. Maziar Badii, MD, FRCP, Rheumatologist, discusses diagnosis of congenital scoliosis.
Video transcript

Featuring Dr. Maziar Badii, MD, FRCP
Diagnosis of Congenital Scoliosis
Duration: 3 minutes, 35 seconds

Fifteen to twenty percent of scoliosis is congenital, so people are born having a scoliosis.

Now these are often diagnosed by the pediatrician that examines the baby in the delivery room, finds that there is a curvature that looks scoliotic. Interestingly, the scoliosis itself probably occurs as early as somewhere between the second to the seventh week in utero.

So the spine, when it starts to segment itself, it can be problems with segmentation, so some levels don’t divide. Or one half of the spine grows faster or doesn't grow at all, turning this straight line into a curve. And so sometimes the scoliosis is even picked up by in-utero testing, for example, an ultrasound may be able to identify this.

The other 80 percent are cases where at birth, there is no scoliosis. It comes on. The most common form is the idiopathic, cause is not known. It can happen during infancy. It can happen during childhood.

The most common form is as an adolescent, so somewhere between ages of 11, to 15, 16. Typically, girls reach skeletal maturity, meaning they stop growing when they are 16 or so. Boys go a bit longer. They grow until 20 or 21, when they reach skeletal maturity.

After that, the skeleton doesn't grow, so scoliosis doesn't progress, unless there is a secondary cause, be it injury, or be it a mass in the spine or a neurological damage, those are the acquired forms.

Speaking about the idiopathic scoliosis, the ones that are the most common, the ones that are diagnosed in teenage years, they’re often done by a family physician, or sometimes by a school therapist or a phys ed teacher. They see the scoliosis, they send them to the family physician.

Often, the family physician asks for a scoliosis specific X-ray film, a film that covers the thoracic spine and the lumbar spine, with the person standing. It can be done in different planes.

The important thing when it comes to idiopathic scoliosis, is to do serial examination. This will be done by your doctor, but you can keep an eye on it yourself as well. The idea is that a scoliosis that is fairly stable is not going to increase in curve over time, so it doesn't need any specific treatment. It can be observed.

But a scoliosis that keeps increasing over time, both looking at it, and on X-ray, is something that will potentially need more attention because it may potentially be associated with symptoms.

If you think you have a scoliosis, either because you’ve seen asymmetry of your posture yourself, or if someone has commented that you may have an abnormal curve in your spine, see your family physician. They can examine you and answer your questions.

You might visit a rheumatologist for information on what is, conditions, side effects, symptoms and treatments related to congenital scoliosis, idiopathic scoliosis, and other spinal conditions.

Presenter: Dr. Maziar Badii, Rheumatologist, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Rheumatologist

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

QA Chat
Ask us a health question on
diagnosis/treatment options...