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Congenital Scoliosis

Congenital scoliosis is a spinal deformity in which a sideways curvature of the spine is caused by a defect present at birth. The spine may also be rotated or twisted, pulling the ribs along with it to form a multidimensional curve, often causing a hump.

Congenital scoliosis occurs in only 1 in 10,000 newborns, mostly in boys, and is much less common than idiopathic scoliosis, which usually becomes evident in adolescence.

At Southwest Scoliosis Institute, we offer a wealth of resources about how to prepare your child for surgery, what to expect during surgery and specific ways we make safety a top priority.

Causes
In congenital scoliosis, the following may occur during the baby’s development in the womb:

  • The bones (vertebrae) in the spine may not form normally
  • One or more bones in the spine may be absent
  • Bones may partially form
  • Bones may not be separated as they should be

In addition to scoliosis curves, a child’s spine may also develop other curves in the opposite direction — above or below the affected area — to compensate and maintain an upright posture. At Southwest Scoliosis Institute, each patient and parent of the patient becomes well informed of all the options available. The physicians take time to outline all options and every effort is made to take the most conservative route possible.

“I involve my patients and their families in the decision making for their child’s treatment, carefully tailoring the management to their medical & social needs and constraints. I believe in an informed patient and family, treating every child as I would my own.” Dr. Shyam Kishan

Signs and symptoms

Symptoms of congenital scoliosis include:

  • Tilted, uneven shoulders, with one shoulder blade protruding more than the other
  • A rotation of the neck causing the head to tilt in one direction
  • Prominence of the ribs on one side
  • Uneven waistline
  • One hip higher than the other
  • An overall appearance of leaning to the side
  • A problem with the spinal cord or nerves that produces weakness, numbness or a loss of coordination in rare cases

Bracing: the most common nonsurgical treatment

For curves less than 25 degrees, we recommend ongoing monitoring by our orthopedic physicians, Drs. Kishan or Hostin. If they document that the child’s spinal curves are worsening, the doctors may suggest spine bracing. “Bracing reduces the pressure on your child’s lower back and helps straighten your child’s spine. The ultimate treatment goal is to prevent the curve from progressing,” states Dr. Hostin.

For children with curves between 25 and 40 degrees, recommended treatment will depend on your child’s individual circumstances. “Either spine bracing or spinal surgery may be appropriate treatment for your child,” explains Dr. Kishan.

Surgical options for congenital scoliosis
The most common surgical treatments for congenital scoliosis are implanting growing rods and spinal fusion. The determination of which surgery is right for your child will depend on your child’s age and skeletal maturity, along with a host of other medical considerations. Our orthopedic physicians take the time to review with you all the options so you can make an informed decision.

“It’s serious surgery, so it’s critically important that we sit down with patients and their families to explain the risks and benefits of each procedure,” Dr Hostin explains. “I spend significant time in preoperative conversations discussing the risks, the benefits, the possibilities, and what my own personal experience has been over the last 15 years. My goal is to make sure the individual or parent who opts for surgery has a complete understanding of the risks and the intended outcome.”

In addition, if your child has other health issues — such as heart, lung or kidney problems — our orthopedic team works with experts in these disciplines to ensure your child gets the comprehensive care they need.

If you think your child may suffer from scoliosis, call 214-556-0565 to make an appointment to discuss the treatment options we offer.