What is the risk of low back pain following surgery for idiopathic scoliosis?

Updated: Dec 02, 2020
  • Author: Charles T Mehlman, DO, MPH; Chief Editor: Jeffrey A Goldstein, MD  more...
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Significant concern exists regarding the inferior (caudad) extent of a patient's spinal fusion and its potential relationship with future low back pain. [142] Connolly led a group of researchers at the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children who studied this question in 83 patients fused with Harrington instrumentation to the second, third, fourth, or fifth lumbar vertebra. At an average of 12 years (range, 10-16 years) after surgical treatment, these patients were found to have a statistically higher rate (76%) of low back pain than a control group (50%).

Connolly's patients were from an era in which the predominant instrumentation system was noncontoured Harrington rods, which were notoriously associated with low back pain when applied to the lumbar spine. [142] The results of this study almost certainly cannot be generalized to current scoliosis patients, who are treated with very different instrumentation systems.

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