Scoliosis Research Society (SRS)
An International Organization Dedicated to the Education, Research and Treatment of Spinal Deformity
Our Mission is to Foster Optimal Care for All Patients with Spinal Deformities
Just as described for infantile scoliosis, your spine surgeon may choose to order an MRI. This decision is based on the presentation of the curve, findings of a physical examination, and X-ray features. As a rule of thumb, about 20% of children who are younger than 10 and who have a curve greater than 20º will have an underlying spinal condition. There is a particularly high incidence of Arnold-Chiari malformation (in which the lower part of the brain extends into the cervical spine) and syringomyelia (cyst in the spinal cord) associated with juvenile scoliosis, which might be detected on an MRI of the entire spine. (Figure 1) If something is seen on the MRI that could be causing your child's scoliosis, your doctor will probably refer you to a neurosurgeon. On occasion, a neurosurgical intervention may help correct the curvature.
Figure 1 - MRI demonstrating a cyst (syringomyelia) in the spinal canal.