Juvenile scoliosis is classically defined as scoliosis that is first diagnosed in a child between 4 and 10 years old. This category comprises about 10-15% of all idiopathic scoliosis. Some juvenile curves will resolve without treatment, especially at the earlier end of the age spectrum. Juveniles behave similar to infants in the younger ages, making them more common in boys than girls, and left-sided curves are common. The older children behave more like adolescent idiopathic scoliosis- most common in girls with right-sided thoracic curves.
Your pediatric spine surgeon may suggest a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) study to determine if there are any abnormalities of the spinal cord or spinal column. The study is more difficult in small children because sedation or even general anesthesia may be necessary to relax the child enough to obtain good images. As a rule of thumb, approximately 20% of children younger than 10 who have a curve greater than 20o
Figure 1. A young woman with right-sided thoracolumbar scoliosis. A standing X-ray showing her curve. An MRI showed an Arnold Chiari malformation (her brainstain is extending into the neck) and a syrinx (cyst in the spinal cord) in the cervical spine.