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Degenerative Adult Onset Scoliosis

GRUBB, STEPHEN A., MD; LIPSCOMB, HESTER J., RN, MPH; COONRAD, RALPH W., MD

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There are people who have no history of scoliosis who develop spinal deformity of a progressive nature as adults, associated with severe degenerative disc disease. The clinical syndrome associated with this deformity is not well documented. In an attempt to describe this clinical syndrome more precisely, 21 patients with the diagnosis of degenerative scoliosis were identified and reviewed. Review included history with pain drawings when available, physical examination, bone densities, and standing spinal roentgenograms. Patients with spinal compression fractures, spondylolyses, prior history of scoliosis or radiographic findings consistent with an idlopathic scoliosis were excluded. Our review shows that these patients can develop, along with progressive scoliosis, loss of lumbar lordosis with a resulting flat back deformity. These patients commonly present in the sixth decade with a predominantly stenotic symptom complex, but often lack the classic feature of relief in a sitting posture. The number of male and female patients was approximately equal. Roentgenogram findings show a high angle deformity over a short number of spinal segments and an absence of bony features associated with idlopathic scoliosis such as lateral vertebral wedging and alterations of the lamina. The Incidence of this condition remains to be established.

From the North Carolina Spine Center, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

© Lippincott-Raven Publishers.