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What is congenital scoliosis?

Congenital scoliosis is a lateral spinal curvature that develops when vertebrae form improperly before birth. While the term “congenital” might seem to imply that the condition is inherited, genetic studies have shown that the condition does not necessarily run in families. The condition is rare, affecting only one in 10,000 infants. It is classified as idiopathic scoliosis, meaning its exact cause is unknown. To learn about the types of congenital scoliosis and the treatments available for relief, read the following article.

Types of congenital scoliosis

If the spine fails to develop properly after the first four to six weeks of pregnancy, congenital scoliosis can occur. Congenital scoliosis is classified by the type of spinal irregularity that is causing the curvature. Incidentally, this curvature might not be simply to the right or left; kyphosis (a forward curve) or lordosis (a backward curve) might also be present. There are two main types of abnormalities that could cause congenital scoliosis — failure of formation, which is more common, and failure of segmentation.

Failure of formation means that the normal shape of one vertebra is disrupted. Disruption can take place as a:

  • Hemivertebra — a wedge-shaped vertebra with a misshapen spinal disc that causes a tilt to one side
  • Fused hemivertebra — two vertebrae fused together with no growth plate or disc between

Failure of segmentation means that curvature is a result of:

  • Block vertebra — a range of vertebrae that are fused into one solid block of bone
  • Bar — two or more vertebrae connected incorrectly at the transverse processes
  • Bar with hemivertebrae — two or more vertebrae connected at the transverse processes, along with a wedge-shaped vertebra with a misshapen spinal disc

Treatment for congenital scoliosis

This form of scoliosis in adults is diagnosed using medical imaging and is typically treatable with spine surgery. However, not all cases of congenital scoliosis require surgery immediately, based on the location of the curvature. At USA Spine Care, we offer a free MRI review* in order to determine if you are a candidate for the minimally invasive spine surgery performed at our state-of-the-art facilities.

To learn more about adult congenital scoliosis, or for information about the treatment methods available for some forms of lumbar scoliosis, contact USA Spine Care today. We have performed more than 75,000 patient procedures since 2005 and we are confident that we can help you on the road to recovery.

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