Anterior Overgrowth in Primary Curves, Compensatory Curves and Junctional Segments in Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis

Schlösser, Tom P C, van Stralen, M, Chu, Winnie C W, Lam, Tsz-Ping, Ng, Bobby K W, Vincken, Koen L, Cheng, Jack C Y, Castelein, RM


PLoS ONE [E] 11 (7), p. e0160267


INTRODUCTION: Although much attention has been given to the global three-dimensional aspect of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS), the accurate three-dimensional morphology of the primary and compensatory curves, as well as the intervening junctional segments, in the scoliotic spine has not been described before.

METHODS: A unique series of 77 AIS patients with high-resolution CT scans of the spine, acquired for surgical planning purposes, were included and compared to 22 healthy controls. Non-idiopathic curves were excluded. Endplate segmentation and local longitudinal axis in endplate plane enabled semi-automatic geometric analysis of the complete three-dimensional morphology of the spine, taking inter-vertebral rotation, intra-vertebral torsion and coronal and sagittal tilt into account. Intraclass correlation coefficients for interobserver reliability were 0.98-1.00. Coronal deviation, axial rotation and the exact length discrepancies in the reconstructed sagittal plane, as defined per vertebra and disc, were analyzed for each primary and compensatory curve as well as for the junctional segments in-between.

RESULTS: The anterior-posterior difference of spinal length, based on "true" anterior and posterior points on endplates, was +3.8% for thoracic and +9.4% for (thoraco)lumbar curves, while the junctional segments were almost straight. This differed significantly from control group thoracic kyphosis (-4.1%; P<0.001) and lumbar lordosis (+7.8%; P<0.001). For all primary as well as compensatory curves, we observed linear correlations between the coronal Cobb angle, axial rotation and the anterior-posterior length difference (r≥0.729 for thoracic curves; r≥0.485 for (thoraco)lumbar curves).

CONCLUSIONS: Excess anterior length of the spine in AIS has been described as a generalized growth disturbance, causing relative anterior spinal overgrowth. This study is the first to demonstrate that this anterior overgrowth is not a generalized phenomenon. It is confined to the primary as well as the compensatory curves, the junctional zones do not exhibit this growth discrepancy, however, they are straight.