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Transverse-plane Pelvic Asymmetry in Patients With Cerebral Palsy and Scoliosis

Ko, Phebe S. BS; Jameson, Paul G. II BS; Chang, Tai-Li MD; Sponseller, Paul D. MD

Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics: April/May 2011 - Volume 31 - Issue 3 - p 277–283
doi: 10.1097/BPO.0b013e31820fc65b

Background Pelvic obliquity and loss of sitting balance develop from progressive scoliosis in cerebral palsy (CP) and are indications for surgery. Our goal was to quantify pelvic asymmetry to help understand skeletal deformity in CP and its surgical correction.

Methods We assessed pelvic angles and transverse plane symmetry in 27 consecutive patients with scoliosis and severe CP who had undergone computed tomography for spinal surgery (subjects). The program used allowed measurement of angles in the true transverse plane, compensating for any obliquity present. Measurements included angles of the upper and lower ilium with respect to the sacrum, acetabular anteversion, and sacroiliac joint angles. We compared subject measurements with those of 20 age-matched controls and used Student t test to determine whether subjects had greater asymmetry and if the asymmetry direction was correlated with the adducted hip and/or the scoliosis in subjects with windswept hips.

Results Subjects had significantly more iliac angle asymmetry (P=0.01) and asymmetry of at least 10 degrees in these categories: upper ilium, 15 (mean difference, 18); above sciatic notch, 14 (mean difference, 17); just below sciatic notch, 15 (mean difference, 19); sacroiliac joint, 5; and acetabular anteversion, 6. No control had asymmetry greater than 10 degrees. Comparing subjects with and without windswept hips, the former had more asymmetrical upper iliac angles. In 16 subjects with windswept hips, the scoliosis curve convexity was ipsilateral to the more internally rotated ilium. In 4 of the 5 subjects with severely windswept hips, the side of the adducted hip had more inward iliac rotation than did the contralateral (abducted) hip.

Conclusions Transverse pelvic asymmetry, a little-recognized deformity in patients with severe CP, is most pronounced above the acetabulum and is more common in patients with windswept hips. Spine surgeons should be aware of such asymmetry because it may make iliac fixation challenging and account for some persistent postoperative deformity.

Level of Evidence Case-control study, Level III.

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD

The authors have no sources of funding or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Reprint: Paul D. Sponseller, MD, c/o Elaine P. Henze, BJ, ELS, Medical Editor and Director, Editorial Services, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, 4940 Eastern Ave, A665, Baltimore, MD 21224-2780. Email:

Copyright © 2011 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.