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The purpose of this study was to evaluate the long-term outcome of adults with spina bifida cystica (SBC) who had been treated either operatively or non-operatively for scoliosis during childhood. We reviewed 45 patients with a SBC scoliosis (Cobb angle ≥ 50º) who had been treated at one of two children's hospitals between 1991 and 2007. Of these, 34 (75.6%) had been treated operatively and 11 (24.4%) non-operatively. After a mean follow-up of 14.1 years (standard deviation (sd) 4.3) clinical, radiological and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) outcomes were evaluated using the Spina Bifida Spine Questionnaire (SBSQ) and the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36). Although patients in the two groups were demographically similar, those who had undergone surgery had a larger mean Cobb angle (88.0º (sd 20.5; 50.0 to 122.0) ; : versus 65.7º (sd 22.0; 51.0 to 115.0); p < 0.01) and a larger mean clavicle-rib intersection difference (12.3 mm; (sd 8.5; 1 to 37); versus 4.1 mm, (sd 5.9; 0 to 16); p = 0.01) than those treated non-operatively. Both groups were statistically similar at follow-up with respect to walking capacity, neurological motor level, sitting balance and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) outcomes. Spinal fusion in SBC scoliosis corrects coronal deformity and stops progression of the curve but has no clear effect on HRQOL.

Original publication




Journal article


Bone joint j

Publication Date





1244 - 1251


Myelomeningocele, Non-operative, Quality of life, Scoliosis, Spina bifida, Adolescent, Adult, Braces, Child, Child, Preschool, Combined Modality Therapy, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Male, Quality of Life, Retrospective Studies, Scoliosis, Spina Bifida Cystica, Spinal Fusion, Surveys and Questionnaires, Treatment Outcome, Walkers, Young Adult