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May 26, 1993

Screening for Adolescent Idiopathic ScoliosisReview Article

Author Affiliations

science advisor, US Preventive Services Task Force.

JAMA. 1993;269(20):2667-2672. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03500200081038

THE SCOLIOSIS Research Society defines scoliosis as a lateral spinal curve of 11° or greater. An estimated 500 000 adults in the United States have scoliosis.1 Idiopathic scoliosis accounts for about 65% of cases of structural scoliosis2,3 (curves caused by spinal column disorders vs other conditions, such as limb-length inequality), and a large proportion of these cases develop during adolescence. A lateral spinal curve of 11° or greater is present in about 2% to 3% of adolescents at the end of their growth period. Curves greater than 20° occur in less than 0.5% of adolescents.4

Scoliosis can progress undetected as the size of the spinal curve increases. The progression is generally painless and produces no symptoms. Curves may be unnoticed by parents or other adults because the deviations are subtle. Health professionals may also fail to detect the disorder because an examination of the spine may not