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Congenital Spine Disorders

Congenital scoliosis is a spine abnormality present since birth, with bone deformity as the cause. Although the child was born with the bone deformity, often the diagnosis is not made until several years of age, or even through an xray taken for unrelated reasons. Often it can be associated with other conditions, such as ear, heart, kidney or bowel issues.

The spine shows more than a curve in congenital scoliosis- the curve is from a bone deformity- either a partially formed bone, or two bones or more growing together. This may cause more growth on one side or the other, resulting in a curve which may be progressively worsening with growth. The amount of progression is dependent on the type of deformity. A partially formed vertebra can cause a worsening curve, but this is much worse if there are two partial bones on the same side. This is even worse if there is a bone fusion on the opposite side. Each case has several variants, and needs individual consideration.

Sometimes an MRI may be needed, as the spinal cord is formed at the same time as the bone. If the curve is not worsening, the MRI may not be urgently needed, as general anesthesia may be required.

Congenital curves may require surgery at an early age. We have what I refer to as “imperfect answers to difficult problems”- surgeries which hopefully can allow for growth while controlling the curves. These deformities can require multiple surgeries, and each case is individual.