Pediatric spinal deformity results from multiple conditions including congenital anomalies, neuromuscular disorders, skeletal dysplasia, and developmental disorders (idiopathic). Pediatric spinal deformities can be progressive and cause pulmonary compromise, neurological deficits, and cardiovascular compromise. The classification and treatment of these disorders have evolved since surgical treatment was popularized when Harrington distraction instrumentation was introduced.
The advent of anterior-spine instrumentation systems has challenged the concepts of length of fusion needed to arrest curvature progression. Segmental fixation revolutionized the surgical treatment of these deformities. More recently, pedicle screw–augmented segmental fixation has been introduced and promises once again to shift the standard of surgical therapy. Recent advances in thoracoscopic surgery have made this technique applicable to scoliosis surgery.
Not only has surgical treatment progressed but also the classification of different forms of pediatric deformity continues to evolve. Recently, Lenke and associates proposed a new classification for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. This classification attempts to address some of the shortcomings of the King classification system.
In this article the authors review the literature on pediatric spinal deformities and highlight recent insights into classification, treatment, and surgery-related complications.