Hype vs. Reality of Sports After Scoli Surgery

A study might nudge us to promise more than AIS surgery can deliver — don't do it

Hype vs. Reality of Sports After Scoli Surgery

What’s the Claim?

A prospective study found that 93% of patients returned to sports after posterior spinal fusion for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. It also found no association between the distal-most fusion level and the likelihood that patients would return to the same level of sports participation, nor between that fusion level and return to the same type of sport.

How’s It Stack Up?

An earlier retrospective study from the same center and a study based on a survey that looked at associations between patient and surgical factors and return to sport both had a soft finding about the lowest instrumented vertebra being associated with return to sport, but differences in study design and sample size could easily account for the apparent “difference” here. The current study, for example, had few patients who were fused all the way to L4, and the survey study did not ask return-to-sport questions in the same ways as the current study. The current prospective study and the two other studies on the topic cited here seem generally compatible with one another in a big-picture sense: Kids recover from this operation pretty well. But the details are murky past that point.

What’s Our Take?