Spinal Conditions

Congenital Scoliosis

Congenital Scoliosis

Congenital Scoliosis: present at birth, although it may not immediately be identified.

What is Congenital Scoliosis?

Congenital Scoliosis, a condition affecting the musculoskeletal system, alters the natural curvature of the spine. When observed from behind, a scoliotic spine deviates from a straight line and often resembles the shape of a letter “C” or “S,” owing to a lateral curvature from right to left. When scoliosis is congenital, it means the condition is present at birth, stemming from developmental issues during pregnancy. The abnormal spinal curvature typical of congenital scoliosis begins its formation before birth, typically within the first 4-6 weeks of fetal development. Despite being present at birth, congenital scoliosis might not manifest until later in childhood as the child grows.

In contrast to idiopathic scoliosis, congenital scoliosis poses greater challenges for correction. Approximately 10-25% of congenital scoliotic curves do not progress further, but a significant majority require active intervention as they tend to worsen with growth.

While the precise incidence of congenital scoliosis remains unclear, it is notably less common than idiopathic scoliosis and doesn’t exhibit familial patterns.

Causes of Congenital Scoliosis

Formation Failure

In this scenario, one or more spinal vertebrae fail to form completely during fetal development. These incomplete formations result in abnormally shaped vertebrae, often resembling wedges or triangles, which can tilt the spine in one direction, causing scoliosis. However, the presence of malformed vertebrae doesn’t always lead to scoliotic curvature; balanced wedges might negate the effect, whereas wedges on the same side accentuate the curvature.

Segmentation Failure

This failure refers to incomplete separation of some spinal vertebrae during fetal development, leading to abnormal connections or fusion on one side of the spine. Consequently, the spine grows asymmetrically, resulting in scoliosis.

Combination of Formation and Segmentation Failure

Sometimes, both formation failure and segmentation failure contribute to congenital scoliosis, resulting in a mixed deformity.

The severity of congenital scoliosis ranges from mild to severe, with its impact determined by the degree of developmental defects affecting one or multiple areas of the spine. Symptoms may include uneven hips or shoulders, protruding shoulder blades, or visible spinal curvature.

Diagnosis of Congenital Scoliosis

Medical History

A comprehensive interview and review of medical records help identify any underlying conditions contributing to spinal curvature.

Physical Examination

A thorough examination assesses asymmetries in shoulders, rib cage, pelvis, and other signs indicative of scoliosis. Skin changes and other congenital abnormalities are also evaluated.

Imaging Studies

X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs of the spine are performed to confirm scoliosis and assess associated conditions. Abdominal ultrasounds may be conducted to examine internal organs in congenital scoliosis cases.

All information provided on this website is for information purposes only. Please see a healthcare professional for medical advice. If you are seeking this information in an emergency situation, please call 911 and seek emergency help.