Idiopathic scoliosis: A pilot MR study of early vertebral morphological changes and spinal asymmetry

Ayesha Maqsood, Sohaib Z. Hashmi, Matthew Hartwell, John F. Sarwark*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) a common spinal condition affecting adolescents. Though the etiology is still unknown, it is widely thought to have a multifactorial etiology and early diagnosis remains a significant challenge. The purpose of this study is to identify early vertebral morphological changes and patterns of spinal asymmetry in these at-risk individuals who later progress to adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. This was a retrospective study of patients treated for AIS between 1997 and 2017. We utilized two study groups, a group with immature onset of spinal asymmetry and a control group. Inclusion criteria for the immature onset group was defined by a Cobb angle between 10 and 40° diagnosed prior to the age of 12 with MRI scans and XRs available for review. Qualitative assessments observed for sagittal vertebral wedging, analysis of vertebral corner anatomy, spinal harmony, and sagittal balance. These findings were then qualitatively compared between groups. Twenty patients were included in this study, ten each in the immature onset and control groups. In the immature onset group, two patients had sagittal wedging, five had abnormal vertebral corners, nine did not have spinal harmony, and nine had negative sagittal balance, compared to none of the control patients having sagittal wedging, none having abnormal vertebral corners, all having spinal harmony, and nine having positive spinal balance. This pilot MRI study identifies qualitative vertebral morphological changes in patients who progress to AIS. Our findings suggest abnormal vertebral corner anatomy, sagittal wedging, and negative sagittal balance as potential early findings in patients who develop AIS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-177
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Orthopaedics
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis
  • Hueter-Volkmann principle
  • Relative anterior spinal overgrowth
  • Spinal asymmetry
  • Vertebral morphology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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