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Eur Spine J. 2018 Feb;27(2):286-292. doi: 10.1007/s00586-017-5346-6. Epub 2017 Oct 19.

Rapidly increasing incidence in scoliosis surgery over 14 years in a nationwide sample.

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Department of Women's and Children's Health, Karolinska Institutet, Karolinska Universitetssjukhuset Solna, 171 76, Stockholm, Sweden.
Department of Physical Therapy, Movement and Rehabilitation Sciences, Northeastern University, 360 Huntington Avenue, Rm 301c Robinson Hall, Boston, MA, 02115, USA.
Section of Clinical Sciences, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.
Department of Clinical Science, Intervention and Technology, Division of Orthopedics and Biotechnology, Karolinska Institutet, Karolinska University Hospital, Huddinge, K54, 141 86, Stockholm, Sweden.
Department of Orthopaedics, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.



Severe scoliosis is primarily managed with surgery. This cohort study describes the incidence of surgically treated scoliosis among Swedish youth and young adults, stratified by age, sex, scoliosis type, and surgical approach and identifies changes in incidence rate and hospital length of stay (LOS), infections requiring re-surgery and mortality within 90 days.


Swedish youth, 0-21 years, (n = 3062) with a diagnostic code for scoliosis and spine surgery between 2000 and 2013 were selected from the National Patient Register. Incidence was computed by comparing individuals with surgically treated scoliosis to the total at risk population. Linear regression models and Spearman correlation coefficients analyzed trends over time.


Overall annual incidence per 100,000 individuals was 9.1 (5.9 males/12.5 females). Annual incidence increased over 14 years from 5.1 to 9.8; an average 4.6% per year (p < 0.001). Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis was most common (4.5 per 100,000; n = 1516) followed by neuromuscular 2.7 (n = 913) and congenital 0.7 (n = 236). Average LOS decreased among scoliosis types except infantile and neuromuscular scoliosis. Posterior fusion was the most common surgical approach (75%) followed by anterior (18%) and anteroposterior fusion (7%). Posterior fusions significantly increased with a resultant decrease in anterior and anteroposterior fusion over time. Individuals with neuromuscular scoliosis exhibited the highest mortality (n = 12; 1.3%) and (n = 59; 6%) of individuals with neuromuscular scoliosis and (n = 12; 15%) with scoliosis related to MMC required revision surgery due to post-op infection.


Surgical management of scoliosis is increasing with a concurrent decrease in hospital LOS. Surgical management of neuromuscular scoliosis is associated with high 90-day post-operative infections and mortality rate.


Children; Epidemiology; Spine; Surgery; Young adults

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