Spinal cord position in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis

Yossi Smorgick*, Jeffrey J. Settecerri, Kevin C. Baker, Harry Herkowitz, Jeffrey S. Fischgrund, Ira Zaltz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: The use of thoracic pedicle screws in deformity surgery provides a stable fixation system. The concept of acceptably positioned screws includes a worrisome subset of screws that perforate the medial pedicle cortex and may result in some compromise of the spinal canal. A significant higher incidence of cortical wall penetration on the concave side compared with the convex was previously found. Although several authors assumed that the spinal cord hugs the concave pedicles when the spinal deformity is scoliosis, the position of spinal cord in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) has not been studied in depth. METHODS: We reviewed 45 patients who were candidate for operative treatment for AIS between August 2007 and October 2010 at our institution. Posteroanterior and lateral 3-ft standing preoperative radiographs of the spine were reviewed to determine: Cobb angle of the thoracic curves, apex vertebra of the curves, and end vertebras of the curves. Magnetic resonance images were retrospectively reviewed. The lateral cord space (LCS) ratio, which reflects the relative position of the spinal cord in the spinal canal, was calculated for each level with a thoracic curve. RESULTS: The average LCS for thoracic curves of >50 degrees was 2.123. The average LCS for thoracic curves of <50 degrees was 1.551 (P=0.002). The LCS for the apex vertebra was 1.699. The LCS for the upper end vertebra and lower end vertebra were 1.212, 1.225, respectively (P<0.001). There was a statistically significant difference between right thoracic curves and left thoracic curve regarding the LCS. In right thoracic curve the LCS was 1.487 (1.487+0.45) while in left thoracic curve it was 0.761 (0.761+0.17) meaning that in both curves the spinal cord moved to the concave side of the curve. CONCLUSIONS: Our study confirms that spinal cord in AIS tend to follow the appearance of the curve with its being tethered on the concave side. The spinal cord is close to the pedicle around the apex area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)500-503
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Pediatric Orthopaedics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • adolescent idiopathic scoliosis
  • concave
  • convex
  • pedicular screws
  • spinal cord


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