Researchers from Mount Sinai have designed a new x-ray classification system for adult idiopathic scoliosis that they suggest could more precisely define which parts of the spine need correction.

They hope this achievement could enhance treatment, communication, and analysis of spinal deformities affecting older patients, they note in a study published in Spine Deformity.

The team of researchers, led by James D. Lin, MD, MS, a spine surgeon at The Mount Sinai Hospital and Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, suggest their modern approach to the x-ray classification system could provide a more universal and standard assessment of adult scoliosis, according to a media release from The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

“This classification system provides a new language for clinicians and researchers, helping us reliably categorize and communicate the radiographic features of adult idiopathic scoliosis, in order to more effectively facilitate treatment and further analysis. This will help researchers and surgeons scrutinize past results from prior surgeries and refine future treatment.”

— James D. Lin, MD, MS

Adult Scoliosis: Different Symptoms, Treatment

Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine. Many develop it in adolescence, but only a small percentage of adolescent cases require surgery. While adult scoliosis can be the natural progression of adolescent scoliosis, adults can also develop it for the first time; those cases are called adult degenerative scoliosis. The symptoms and surgical treatment can differ significantly for older patients; for example, adults often experience more pain from the condition.

The new method builds on the Lenke classification system for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, which is widely used to define six curve types but is not applicable to adults. The new three-component method maintains the curve types from the Lenke classification and introduces assessments of the global alignment and lumbosacral curve, two features that more commonly deteriorate in older patients, the release explains.

In the study, 12 spine surgeons used the new classification system to grade 30 cases twice, which resulted in near-perfect agreement in the assessment of the patients.

This latest method to classify adult scoliosis could improve treatment options because it helps define the different areas of the spine that need to be corrected and fused, and there is currently no widely accepted x-ray classification system for the complex condition, the release concludes.

[Source(s): The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine, EurekAlert]

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