Current Evidence Regarding the Diagnostic Methods for Pediatric Lumbar Spondylolisthesis: A Report From the Scoliosis Research Society Evidence Based Medicine Committee

Han Jo Kim, Charles H. Crawford, Charles Ledonio, Shay Bess, A. Noelle Larson, Marilyn Gates, Matthew Oetgen, James O. Sanders, Douglas Burton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Study Design: Structured literature review. Objectives: The Scoliosis Research Society (SRS) requested an assessment of the current state of peer-reviewed evidence regarding pediatric lumbar spondylolisthesis with the goal of identifying what is known and what gaps remain in further understanding the diagnostic methods for pediatric spondylolisthesis. Summary of Background Data: Spondylolisthesis in the lumbar spine is common among children and adolescents and no formal synthesis of the published literature regarding diagnostic methods has been previously performed. Methods: A comprehensive literature search was performed. Abstracts were reviewed and data from included studies were analyzed by the committee. From 6600 initial citations with abstract, 663 articles underwent full-text review. The best available evidence for the clinical questions regarding diagnostic methods was provided by 26 included studies. Six of the studies were graded as Level III (retrospective comparative), and represent the current best available evidence whereas 20 of the studies were graded as Level IV (retrospective case series) evidence. No Level V (expert opinion) studies were included in the final list. None of the studies were graded as Level I or Level II. Results: Plain radiography is the workhorse imaging modality for diagnosing spondylolisthesis. No association between radiologic grade of spondylolisthesis and clinical presentation were noted; however, grade III and IV slips more often required surgery, and increasing slip angles were associated with worse baseline outcome scores. There is Level III evidence that the Meyerding grade appears to be more accurate for measuring slip percentage whereas the Lonstein Slip angle and Dubousset Lumbosacral Kyphosis angles are the best for measuring lumbosacral kyphosis in spondylolisthesis. In addition, higher sacral table index, pelvic incidence, sacral slope, and lower sacral table angle were associated with spondylolisthesis. True incidence could not be determined by the current literature available. However, studies in adolescent athletes demonstrated an incidence of 6% to 7% across studies. Conclusions: The current “best available” evidence to guide the diagnosis and characterization of pediatric spondylolisthesis is presented. Future studies are needed to provide more high-quality evidence to answer these clinically relevant questions. Level of Evidence: Level III, review of Level III studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-188
Number of pages4
JournalSpine deformity
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018


  • Lumbosacral kyphosis
  • Pediatric
  • Spondylolisthesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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