Diagnosis of Scoliosis

Scoliosis diagnosis involves taking a patient medical history and performing a physical examination. In some cases, x-rays of the spine are used to evaluate children who have scoliosis and determine the underlying cause (e.g., injury, infection, tumor, congenital abnormality).

Idiopathic scoliosis often is diagnosed during a screening examination for the condition. In this exam, the physician or other health care provider examines the child's spine and checks the symmetry of his or her ribs, muscles, and hip bones on each side. For this examination, the child usually wears a hospital gown that is open in the back. He or she stands with the feet flat on the floor and bends forward at a 90° angle from the waist.

A device called a scoliometer may be used to measure the curvature in children who have scoliosis. Left thoracic curvature of the spine may be associated with neurological conditions, such as cerebral palsy, spinal cord tumors, and muscular dystrophy. In children with this type of curvature, a complete neurological examination also is performed.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 27 Aug 2008

Last Modified: 05 Oct 2015