Article Text

Imaging in childhood scoliosis: a pictorial review
  1. Rachel E Musson1,
  2. Daniel J Warren1,
  3. Ian Bickle1,
  4. Daniel J Connolly1,3,
  5. Paul D Griffiths2
  1. 1Radiology Department, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Glossop Rd, Sheffield, UK
  2. 2Academic Unit of Radiology, University of Sheffield, UK
  3. 3Radiology Department, Sheffield Children's Hospital, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Rachel Musson, Radiology Department, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Glossop Rd, Sheffield S10 2JF, UK; rachelmusson{at}


Childhood scoliosis is a common clinical entity with a number of different causes. In the majority of cases, the scoliosis is idiopathic, but it may be the manifestation of an occult spinal pathology. The clinical history and examination may elicit certain worrying features such as pain, neurological symptoms or an atypical curve pattern. These findings should prompt advanced imaging, as early and accurate detection of an underlying cause allows optimal planning and timing of surgery and helps reduce associated risks. The most common occult pathologies detected by advanced imaging are Arnold Chiari malformations, syringohydromyelia and closed spinal dysraphism such as diastematomyelia. Advanced imaging techniques, in particular multiplanar MRI, are also increasingly requested in children with known congenital scoliosis associated with spinal dysraphism and developmental causes of scoliosis such as neurofibromatosis and Klippel–Feil syndrome, as it allows superior delineation of the spinal column without the radiation risk. This review aims to examine the different imaging techniques currently used in the evaluation of scoliosis and provide a pictorial summary of the more common causes and associations.

  • Scoliosis
  • paediatric radiology

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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