Complications in the surgical treatment of 19,360 cases of pediatric scoliosis: A review of the scoliosis research society morbidity and mortality database

Davis L. Reames, Justin S. Smith, Kai Ming G. Fu, David W. Polly, Christopher P. Ames, Sigurd H. Berven, Joseph H. Perra, Steven D. Glassman, Richard E. McCarthy, Raymond D. Knapp, Robert Heary, Christopher I. Shaffrey

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

223 Scopus citations


Study Design.: Retrospective review of a multicenter database. Objective.: To determine the complication rates associated with surgical treatment of pediatric scoliosis and to assess variables associated with increased complication rates. Summary of Background Data.: Wide variability is reported for complications associated with the operative treatment of pediatric scoliosis. Limited number of patients, surgeons, and diagnoses occur in most reports. The Scoliosis Research Society Morbidity and Mortality (M&M) database aggregates deidentified data, permitting determination of complication rates from large numbers of patients and surgeons. Methods.: Cases of pediatric scoliosis (age ≤18 years), entered into the Scoliosis Research Society M&M database between 2004 and 2007, were analyzed. Age, scoliosis type, type of instrumentation used, and complications were assessed. Results.: A total of 19,360 cases fulfilled inclusion criteria. Of these, complications occurred in 1971 (10.2%) cases. Overall complication rates differed significantly among idiopathic, congenital, and neuromuscular cases (P < 0.001). Neuromuscular scoliosis had the highest rate of complications (17.9%), followed by congenital scoliosis (10.6%) and idiopathic scoliosis (6.3%). Rates of neurologic deficit also differed significantly based on the etiology of scoliosis (P < 0.001), with the highest rate among congenital cases (2.0%), followed by neuromuscular types (1.1%) and idiopathic scoliosis (0.8%). Neur-omuscular scoliosis and congenital scoliosis had the highest rates of mortality (0.3% each), followed by idiopathic scoliosis (0.02%). Higher rates of new neurologic deficits were associated with revision procedures (P < 0.001) and with the use of corrective osteotomies (P < 0.001). The rates of new neurologic deficit were significantly higher for procedures using anterior screw-only constructs (2.0%) or wire-only constructs (1.7%), compared with pedicle screw-only constructs (0.7%) (P < 0.001). Conclusion.: In this review of a large multicenter database of surgically treated pediatric scoliosis, neuromuscular scoliosis had the highest morbidity, but relatively high complication rates occurred in all groups. These data may be useful for preoperative counseling and surgical decision-making in the treatment of pediatric scoliosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1484-1491
Number of pages8
Issue number18
StatePublished - Aug 15 2011


  • complications
  • congenital scoliosis
  • idiopathic scoliosis
  • neuromuscular scoliosis
  • pediatric scoliosis
  • surgery

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