Resource Utilization

Spinal Curvature: Scoliosis in Children

Lead Author(s): 

Adolfo Correa, MD, PhD

Supporting Author(s): 

Sylvia I. Watkins-Castillo, PhD

Because of the low prevalence of scoliosis in children and adolescents, analysis of the health care impact this condition causes is difficult. However, the impact of scoliosis over a lifetime in terms of pain, inability to work, and cost to the health care system are substantial.

In 2010–2011, 92% of the 663,700 health care visits with a diagnosis of scoliosis for those under the age of 18 years were classified as idiopathic scoliosis. The majority (94%) were outpatient visits to either an outpatient clinic or physician office. Only 3% represented hospital discharges; however, this still accounted for 20,100 discharges for this often painful condition in children and adolescents. (Reference Table 3.1.2 PDF CSV)
Prevalence of Idiopathic Adolescent Scoliosis

In 2011, 42% of children and adolescents under the age of 18 years discharged from the hospital with a diagnosis of scoliosis had surgery. Spinal fusion was the most common surgery performed, followed by instrumentation and decompression. Of those having surgery, three-fourths (78%) had only one type of surgery. However, one in five had two or all three types of surgery. Reference Table 3.5.1 PDF CSV)
Procedures Performed on Hospital Discharges <18 Years of Age with Scoliosis Diagnosis, United States, 2011 
Average hospital charges for patients with scoliosis under 18 years of age who had surgery in 2011 were four or more times the average for all scoliosis patients in this age group, even though the length of stay was only about 50% longer. Patients who had an instrumentation procedure had the highest average charges of $165,600, although this may have been in conjunction with another procedure.
Average Length of Stay and Hospital Charges for Scoliosis Discharges Under Age 18,  United States 2011


  • 2014

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