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
Observation is usually the first method of treatment for a young child with a spinal deformity. The physician will first need to determine if the curvature is progressing -- that is, getting worse. Some children will have a curvature of their spine that is stable and unchanging, whereas other children will have a curve that keeps progressing. Just because your spine surgeon is "observing" your child does not mean that he/she is not treating them. During this period of time, not only will your child's surgeon look for changes in the curve, but they will probably order some special tests to evaluate further the child's condition and have you see some other doctors. These tests may include an MRI study or a CT study (different kinds of diagnostic imaging). Your child may be referred to other specialists, such as a geneticist, cardiologist, or pulmonologist to make sure there are no other problems in other parts of the body.
Your spine surgeon will probably want to see your child regularly and have new front- and side-view X-rays taken. They will then measure the curves and compare them with the previous X-rays, as well as the X-rays from the child's first visit. It is ideal to have all of the X-rays done at the spine surgeon's office so that he/she can have similar types of X-rays for comparison and maintain your child's record. The surgeon will probably continue to observe your child's curves as long as there is no drastic increase in the size of the curve. In some cases the curve will improve or even resolve (as in infantile scoliosis). If your spine surgeon finds progression of the curve, or determines that progression is highly likely, a different form of treatment will need to be started. He/she may want to obtain bending X-rays of the spine to assess flexibility and help determine the next steps in treatment.