Original Study

Is the routine use of magnetic resonance imaging indicated in patients with scoliosis?

Varun Dewan, Adrian Gardner, Stephen Forster, Jake Matthews, Matthew Newton Ede, Jwalant Mehta, Jonathan Spilsbury, David Marks


Background: To assess the reliability of the indicators for performing magnetic resonance imaging in patients with scoliosis and assess the incidence of neural axis anomalies in a population with scoliosis referred to a specialist centre.
Methods: A retrospective review of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) reports of all patients under the age of 18 who underwent a pre-operative MRI for investigation of their scoliosis between 2009 and 2014 at a single institution was performed.
Results: There were 851 patients who underwent an MRI scan of their whole spine with a mean age of 14.08 years. There were 211 males and 640 females. One hundred and fourteen neural axis abnormalities (NAA) were identified. The presence of a left sided thoracic curve, a double thoracic curve, being male nor being diagnosed before the age of 10 were found to be statistically significant for the presence of a NAA. Furthermore, 2.34% of patients were also found to have an incidental finding (IF) of an extraspinal abnormality.
Conclusions: From our series, the reported indications for performing an MRI scan in the presence of scoliosis are not reliable for the presence of an underlying NAA. We have demonstrated that there is a number of intra and extra dural anomalies found on MRI without clinical symptoms and signs. This acts as normative information for this group.

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