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Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis : A New Classification to Determine Extent of Spinal Arthrodesis

Lenke, Lawrence G. MD; Betz, Randal R. MD; Harms, Jürgen MD; Bridwell, Keith H. MD; Clements, David H. MD; Lowe, Thomas G. MD; Blanke, Kathy RN

Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery - American Volume: August 2001 - Volume 83 - Issue 8 - p 1169–1181
Supplementary Content

Background: The lack of a reliable, universally acceptable system for classification of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis has made comparisons between various types of operative treatment an impossible task. Furthermore, long‐term outcomes cannot be determined because of the great variations in the description of study groups.

Methods: We developed a new classification system with three components: curve type (1 through 6), a lumbar spine modifier (A, B, or C), and a sagittal thoracic modifier (-, N, or +). The six curve types have specific characteristics, on coronal and sagittal radiographs, that differentiate structural and nonstructural curves in the proximal thoracic, main thoracic, and thoracolumbar/lumbar regions. The lumbar spine modifier is based on the relationship of the center sacral vertical line to the apex of the lumbar curve, and the sagittal thoracic modifier is based on the sagittal curve measurement from the fifth to the twelfth thoracic level. A minus sign represents a curve of less than +10°, N represents a curve of 10° to 40°, and a plus sign represents a curve of more than +40°.

Five surgeons, members of the Scoliosis Research Society who had developed the new system and who had previously tested the reliability of the King classification on radiographs of twenty‐seven patients, measured the same radiographs (standing coronal and lateral as well as supine side-bending views) to test the reliability of the new classification. A randomly chosen independent group of seven surgeons, also members of the Scoliosis Research Society, tested the reliability and validity of the classification as well.

Results: The interobserver and intraobserver kappa values for the curve type were, respectively, 0.92 and 0.83 for the five developers of the system and 0.740 and 0.893 for the independent group of seven scoliosis surgeons. In the independent group, the mean interobserver and intraobserver kappa values were 0.800 and 0.840 for the lumbar modifier and 0.938 and 0.970 for the sagittal thoracic modifier. These kappa values were all in the good-to-excellent range (>0.75), except for the interobserver reliability of the independent group for the curve type (kappa = 0.74), which fell just below this level.

Conclusions: This new two-dimensional classification of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, as tested by two groups of surgeons, was shown to be much more reliable than the King system. Additional studies are necessary to determine the versatility, reliability, and accuracy of the classification for defining the vertebrae to be included in an arthrodesis.

Lawrence G. Lenke, MD; Keith H. Bridwell, MD; Kathy Blanke, RN; Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, One Barnes-Jewish Hospital Plaza, Suite 11300, West Pavilion, St. Louis, MO 63100. E-mail address for L.G. Lenke:

Randal R. Betz, MD; Shriners Hospital for Children, Philadelphia Unit, 3551 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19140-4131

Jürgen Harms, MD; SRH Klinikum Karlsbad-Langensteinbach, D-76307 Karlsbad, Germany

David H. Clements, MD; Temple University Hospital, 3401 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19140

Thomas G. Lowe, MD; Woodridge Orthopaedic Clinic, 3550 Lutheran Parkway, #201, Wheat Ridge, CO 80033-6017

Copyright 2001 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Incorporated
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