Study Design. Literature review.
Objective. To assess (1) quality of life in patients with adult scoliosis who underwent nonoperative and/or surgical treatment, and (2) cost-effectiveness of different scoliosis treatment modalities.
Summary of Background Data. Recently, there has been an interest in examining quality of life of patients undergoing treatment for adult scoliosis, comparing the value of nonoperative versus operative management. This article reviews the current literature on treatment of adult scoliosis, in the hopes of drawing conclusions for the best approach to these patients.
Methods. MEDLINE and PubMed databases were searched to identify articles. Health-related quality of life measures included Oswestry Disability Index scores, Scoliosis Research Society (SRS) instrument scores, 12-Item Short Form Health Survey, and numerical rating scale for leg and/or back pain. Studies included were those involving patients with adult scoliosis who underwent primary surgery or nonoperative management. The studies that focused on the change in validated outcome scores from the onset of the study to final follow-up were found to be valuable. Studies on predominantly adolescent scoliosis and those that only measured postoperative outcomes scores were excluded.
Results. The SRS-22, Oswestry Disability Index, 12-Item Short Form Health Survey, and numerical rating scale were found to be validated for measuring quality of life in patients with scoliosis. Thirteen studies were included, which evaluated changes in health-related quality of life outcomes from baseline in surgical and nonsurgical treatment of adult scoliosis. There was a trend toward improved quality of life measures in patients undergoing surgical treatment for adult scoliosis.
Conclusion. Adults with painful and disabling scoliosis may benefit from surgical treatment compared with nonsurgical treatment, given the proper indications. Nonsurgical treatment does not seem to be cost-effective and has not shown to have a positive impact on quality of life, although there is a possibility that patients' health may have deteriorated if they did not receive the nonsurgical treatment. Future prospective studies focusing on the cost-effectiveness of adult scoliosis treatment and improvement of quality of life are needed to confirm the assertion of the current retrospective literature that surgery provides better quality of life than nonoperative treatment.
Level of Evidence: N/A