Deviations in normal spinal contours comprise a group of disorders termed spinal deformities of which idiopathic scoliosis is the most common. Spinal deformities are clinically important because they may produce pain, difficulty with sitting or ambulating, neurologic compromise, unacceptable cosmesis and in advanced cases cardiopulmonary compromise. Each type of spinal deformity is associated with its own clinical presentation, symptoms and natural history for progression.
Although scoliosis has been defined as lateral curvature of the spine, it is associated with vertebral rotation, which produces the cosmetically unacceptable rub hump. Idiopathic Scoliosis is classified according to the age at onset: infantile, juvenile and adolescent. Scoliosis seen after skeletal maturity is termed adult scoliosis. Progression of idiopathic curves correlates with the magnitude of the curve, the age of presentation and the patient’s menarchal status. Non-idiopathic causes of scoliosis must be determined because of their less predictable, and generally higher risk for progression (e.g. congenital, neurofibromatosis and neuromuscular).