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Archived Clinical Summary

Idiopathic Scoliosis in Adolescents: Screening

Originally published on: September 2, 2016

This recommendation statement is currently archived and inactive. It should be used for historical purposes only. Click here for copyright and source information .

Disclaimer:Recommendations made by the USPSTF are independent of the U.S. government. They should not be construed as an official position of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Population Asymptomatic adolescents
Recommendation Do not screen for idiopathic scoliosis.
Grade: D
Screening Tests There is no evidence that screening asymptomatic adolescents detects idiopathic scoliosis at an earlier stage than detection without screening.

Screening for idiopathic scoliosis is usually done by visual inspection of the spine to look for asymmetry of the shoulders, scapulae, and hips. If idiopathic scoliosis is suspected, radiography can be used to confirm the diagnosis and to quantify the degree of curvature.

Timing of Screening Although routine screening of adolescents for idiopathic scoliosis is not recommended, clinicians should be prepared to evaluate idiopathic scoliosis when it is discovered incidentally or when the adolescent or parent expresses concern about scoliosis.>
Interventions Treatment of idiopathic scoliosis during adolescence leads to health benefits (decreased pain and disability) in only a small proportion of people. Most cases detected through screening will not progress to a clinically significant form of scoliosis.
Balance of Benefits and Harms Treatment of adolescents with idiopathic scoliosis detected through screening leads to moderate harms, including unnecessary brace wear and unnecessary referral for specialty care. As a result, the harms of screening adolescents for idiopathic scoliosis exceed the potential benefits.
Other Relevant USPSTF Recommendations The USPSTF has also made recommendations on screening for developmental dysplasia of the hip. These recommendations are available at
Current as of: March 2004

Internet Citation: Clinical Summary: Idiopathic Scoliosis in Adolescents: Screening. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. September 2016.

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