Does School Screening Affect Scoliosis Curve Magnitude at Presentation to a Pediatric Orthopedic Clinic?

Joshua J. Thomas, Anthony A. Stans, Todd A. Milbrandt, Vickie M. Treder, Hilal Maradit Kremers, William J. Shaughnessy, A. Noelle Larson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: With new data supporting the efficacy of bracing, the role of school screening for early detection of moderate scoliosis curves has been revisited. Because of a high rate of false-positive screening and cost concerns, a comprehensive county-wide school screening program was discontinued in 2004. We aim to determine the impact of a comprehensive school screening program on curve magnitude at presentation and initial scoliosis treatment for all local county patients presenting to a pediatric orthopedic clinic from all referral sources. Methods: Between 1994 and 2014, a total of 761 county patients presented to a pediatric orthopedic clinic for new scoliosis evaluation. Curve magnitude and recommended treatment were recorded. Treatment indications for bracing, surgery, and observation were consistent over the study period. Results: From January 1994 to July 2004 (school screening period), 514 children were seen by a pediatric orthopedic specialist for scoliosis evaluation compared to 247 patients from August 2004 to December 2014 (no school screening). There was a 48% decrease in the number of county children who were evaluated for idiopathic scoliosis by pediatric orthopedics once school screening was discontinued. Mean maximal Cobb angle at presentation increased from 20° (range, 4°–65°) to 23° (range, 7°–57°). At presentation, 5 of 514 (0.97%) patients in the screened group required surgery and 68 of 514 (13.2%) required bracing, compared to 3 of 247 (1.2%) patients in the nonscreened group requiring surgery and 47 of 247 (19%) requiring bracing (p>.05, p=.04, respectively). Conclusion: After school screening was discontinued, mean curve magnitude and rates of bracing at presentation statistically increased in county patients evaluated for new scoliosis, although the clinical significance is unclear. After school screening was discontinued, there were fewer patient referrals, braces prescribed, and unnecessary evaluations (patients discharged at first visit). This study provides data to evaluate the role of school screening for children with regular access to health care. Level of Evidence: Level 3.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-408
Number of pages6
JournalSpine deformity
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018


  • Bracing
  • Curve magnitude
  • School screening
  • Scoliosis
  • Screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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