ANATOMY OF THE SPINE
The human spine is formed by individual vertebrae and connective tissue discs in between. The vertebrae form the spinal canal. There are seven cervical, twelve thoracic, and five lumbar vertebrae. The intervertebral discs are the link between the individual vertebral bodies.
Normal anatomy of the spine. Longitudinal section and cross sections through the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine.
The little joints that link the vertebrae together are known as facet joints. They help to stabilize the spine and, together with the intervertebral discs, allow a certain degree of mobility of the spinal cord. The spinal canal should be wide enough to allow nerve roots to float freely in cerebrospinal fluid.
The front border of the spinal canal is built by the vertebral bodies and intervertebral discs, the side by the intervertebral joints (facets) and back by the ligamentum flavum (yellow band) and vertebral arches. Discs consist of an outer fibrous ring (annulus fibrosus), which surrounds an inner gel-like center (nucleus pulposus).
The spinal cord and nerve roots lie within the spinal canal. The spinal cord extends downwards approx. to the 1st lumbar vertebra. Below, only nerve roots are present in the spinal canal. At the level of the intervertebral disc the nerve roots pass through the neural root foramina to exit the spinal canal. The spinal cord and nerve roots conduct electric-like signals from the skin and joints to the brain, and process of movement is initiated from the brain to the muscles.
Congenital scoliosis is a spinal deformity ocurring during pregnancy in the first trimester (PMID 30078055
). Most cases occur spontaneously. May be related to maternal diseases such as diabetes or intrauterine exposure to alcohol, valproic acid, etc. These factors can lead to the formation of vertebrae of irregular shape, thus disrupting the physiological form of the whole spine. Often associated with Syringomyelia, Diastematomyelia, Arnold-Chiari malformation, Tethered-cord Syndrome.
CAUSE OF SYMPTOMS
Gradually progressing deformation of the spine
Gradually progressing inflammation and degeneration in the intervertebral joints
Gradually progressing compression of nerve roots
SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS
Total/partial paralysis and numbness from the site of the spinal cord damage downwoads
Visible spine deformity
Chest deformity (protrusion on one side and concavity on the other)
Waist asymmetry and pelvic tilt
Shoulder height differences
Inclined head position
Pain and stiffness along the spine
THE DIAGNOSIS IS BASED ON Medical history Clinical exam Radiographs Computer tomography Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Due to unfavorable courses, surgical treatment is almost always required.
Non-surgical treatment may include
Follow-up and bracing
WHEN SHOULD AN OPERATION BE PERFORMED?
The scoliosis angle increases
WHAT IS THE GOAL OF SURGERY?
HOW IS SURGERY PERFORMED?
Anterior/posterior spinal fusion +/vertebrectomy in younger patients (girls < 10 yrs, boys < 12 yrs) with significant progression, neurologic deficits, or declining respiratory function
Posterior fusion +/osteotomies and correction in older patients with significant progression, neurologic deficits, or declining respiratory function
Distraction based growing rod construct adapting to spinal growth and delaing arthrodesis
Osteotomies between ribs if more than 4 fused ribs to avoid thoracic insufficiency syndrome
WHICH OTHER DISEASES SHOULD BE EXCLUDED (DIFFERENTIAL DIAGNOSIS)? Infantile idiopathic scoliosis Neuromuscular scoliosis Syringomyelia Spina bifida Tethered cord syndrome
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