The effect of scoliosis fusion on spinal motion: A comparison of fused and nonfused patients with idiopathic scoliosis

Bryan Wilk, Lori A. Karol, Charles E. Johnston, Scott Colby, Nasreen Haideri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Study Design. Movement analysis of spinal motion. Objective. To compare spinal motion among females with normal spines, those with idiopathic scoliosis who had not had spinal fusion, and those who had undergone fusion for idiopathic scoliosis. Summary of Background Data. Previous reports have documented loss of spinal motion following fusion for idiopathic scoliosis in adolescents and adults. To our knowledge, comparison to control groups both with and without scoliosis that have not had spinal fusions has not been performed to date. Methods. A total of 91 females between the ages of 15 and 28 years underwent computerized movement analysis. There were 34 fused patients, 32 unfused patients, and 25 healthy controls. The fused patients were divided into 3 groups: (1) 21 patients who had thoracic fusions that extended distally to T11, T12, or L1; (2) 6 patients with thoracic fusions ending at L2; and (3) 7 patients with thoracolumbar or lumbar fusions extending to L3 or L4. Marker triads were placed at C7-T1, T12-L1, and on the pelvis. Forward bend, extension, and left and right lateral bend were measured and divided into thoracic and lumbar motion. Results. There was no difference in any motion between the control and unfused groups. There was overall 25% less total spinal motion in the surgical groups compared to the unfused group. Patients who had thoracic fusions had diminished thoracic motion, especially lateral bending, whereas those who had lumbar fusions had the least lumbar motion, particularly on forward bend and lateral bend maneuvers. There was no compensatory hypermobility of the unfused segments in the surgical group. Conclusions. Diminished spinal motion can be measured in patients who have had spinal fusions. Although stiffness in the operated curves should be expected, compensatory hypermobility in the unfused segments does not occur, resulting in a net loss of flexibility compared to controls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-314
Number of pages6
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2006


  • Idiopathic
  • Motion
  • Movement analysis
  • Scoliosis
  • Spinal fusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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