Magnetic resonance imaging of the brain stem in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis

Alfred E. Geissele, Bruce E.Van Dam, Ltc Mark J. Kransdorf, Carla Geyer, James S. Jelinek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


The cause of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis remains an enigma. Several studies have demonstrated abnormalities of posture, proprioception, and equilibrium control in patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. These func-tions are integrated by structures in and around the brain stem. Twenty-seven patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis were studied with magnetic resonance imaging to delineate the anatomy of the brain stem in such patients. Imaging was conducted from the hypothalamus to the spinal cord at C3 in 26 patients; the remaining patient underwent an incomplete study because of a claustro-phobic reaction. The study group consisted of 25 females and 2 males with an average age of 16 + 5 years. There were 19 right thoracic curves, 5 thoracolumbar curves, and 3 left lumbar curves. The mean primary curve size was 27° at the most recent clinical evaluation. Seven patients were treated with observation, 14 with bracing, and 6 with surgeiy. The magnetic resonance imaging studies were read independently by three attending radiologists in a randomized, blinded fashion along with the magnetic resonance imaging studies of 11 controls. Asymmetry in the ventral pons or medulla in the area of the corticospinal tracts was noted in seven study patients and one control; one study patient had an enlarged cisterna magna and one an inconclusive (incomplete) study. These findings may support previous studies that have suggested a central nervous system abnormality as a cause of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)761-763
Number of pages3
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1991


  • Brain anatomy
  • Brain stem function
  • Idiopathic scoliosis
  • Magnetic resonance imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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