Analysis of patient and parent assessment of deformity in idiopathic scoliosis using the Walter Reed Visual Assessment Scale

James O. Sanders, David W. Polly, William Cats-Baril, JoAnn Jones, Larry G. Lenke, Michael F. O'Brien, B. Stephens Richards, Daniel J. Sucato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


Objectives. This study evaluates the Walter Reed Visual Assessment Scale (WRVAS) compared with clinical parameters and written descriptions of the deformity from idiopathic scoliosis patients and their parents. Summary of Background Data. The WRVAS demonstrates seven visible aspects of spinal deformity in an analogue scale. Higher scores reflect worsening deformity. Materials and Methods. The WRVAS was administered to 182 idiopathic scoliosis patients at four centers in conjunction with open-ended questions about patients' and their parents' perceptions of their spinal deformity. The open-ended responses were categorized as either "deformity noted" or "no deformity noted." Results. WRVAS scores strongly correlate with curve magnitude (P = 0.01) and clearly differentiates curves of 30° or more from lesser curves. Among treatment groups, patients with surgery recommended had significantly higher scores than that of other patients. The instrument differentiated those noting no deformity from those noting a deformity. The correlation between patients' and parents' scores was high (Spearman's rho = 0.8). When a deformity was noted, parents gave higher scores than did their children for rib prominence, shoulder level, scapular rotation, and the total score, but not for the other dimensions. Conclusions. Increasing scores of the WRVAS are strongly correlated with curve magnitude lending construct validity to this type of assessment tool. Patients with "surgery recommended" report more visible deformity on the scale than observed, braced, and postoperative patients, supporting the hypothesis that surgery improves the perceived appearance. Parents perceive more deformity of the ribs and shoulders more than did the patients, but other aspects of the deformity are identified equally. WRVAS scores correlate significantly with curve magnitude and treatment. Parents and patients have similar scores, but with parents perceiving more deformity of the ribs and shoulders than patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2158-2163
Number of pages6
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 15 2003


  • Appearance
  • Cosmesis
  • Outcomes instrument
  • Scoliosis
  • Visible deformity


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