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Scoliosis is an abnormal curve in the spine, and treating it depends on figuring out how severe the curve will become. But predicting the curve’s path in a growing spine can be difficult. Richard Hostin, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon on the medical staff at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano, answers some questions about scoliosis and a new test that can help identify the best treatment options.
Q: How common is scoliosis?
A: Scoliosis is fairly common—about 3 to 4 percent of people have a curve more than 10 degrees.
Q: Who is diagnosed with scoliosis?
A: Often, preteen and early teenage girls, though boys can also develop curves in their spines.
Q: What are some of the challenges in treating scoliosis?
A: It’s difficult for doctors to predict whether curves will get worse or not, so it’s hard to decide whether monitoring the spine closely, bracing the spine or surgery would be the best treatment option.
Q: What is a scoliosis saliva test?
A: People who have had scoliosis that required surgery have had genetic tests, and researchers used these results to identify some genetic markers. These markers can indicate whether a spine’s curve will likely need surgery. Testing a saliva sample can show whether these markers are present.
Q: Who can take the test?
A: Generally, girls between the ages of 9 to 13 who have a spinal curve of 10 to 25 degrees.
Q: What do the results indicate?
A: The score falls in a range of 0 to 200:
Below 50—The curve is unlikely to get bad enough to require surgery. These girls can have fewer follow-up exams and X-rays.
51 to 179—The curve’s progression is harder to predict. Doctors will need to monitor these girls more closely and determine whether bracing and/or surgery are appropriate.
Above 180—The curve will likely require surgery, and a brace might not be as effective.
To learn more about scoliosis screening and treatment at Baylor Plano, click here. For more information about the SCOLISCORE TEST, or to sign up your child for the test, please call 972.985.2797.
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