MRI Screening in Operative Scheuermann Kyphosis: Is it Necessary?

Baron S. Lonner, Courtney S. Toombs, Michael Mechlin, Gina Ciavarra, Suken A. Shah, Amer F. Samdani, Paul Sponseller, Harry L. Shufflebarger, Randal R. Betz, Burt Yaszay, Peter O. Newton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Study Design Patients with preoperative spine magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies from a prospective multicenter study of operative adolescent Scheuermann kyphosis (SK). Objectives To investigate the usefulness of MRI screening in operative planning for SK surgeries. Summary of Background Data Neural axis abnormalities in operative SK have not been previously studied with MRI screening, despite its use. Methods One orthopedic surgeon and two radiologists evaluated all images retrospectively. Radiographs were evaluated for kyphosis apex and magnitude. MRIs were evaluated for spinal cord abnormalities, epidural lipomatosis, location and number of vertebral wedging, Schmorl nodes and posterior disc herniations, frequency of spondylolysis, etc. The relationship of these pathologies to the kyphosis apex was explored. This group was compared to a surgical SK group without preoperative MRIs. Results Eighty-six patients with MRIs, mean age 16.3 years, 64% male, and a mean preoperative kyphosis of 75.9° were evaluated. There were 17 spinal cord abnormalities. Low-lying conus was found in 2 patients, and syrinx in 15 (no Chiari malformations). Epidural lipomatosis was found in 49 patients, average of 5.7 levels. Anterior vertebral wedging occurred in all (mean 4.7 levels). Posterior disc herniations averaged 5.2 levels/patient and 1.8 levels caudad to the apex. Spondylolysis was reported in 8.1%. Four cases (4.7%) had the operative plan changed as a result of the preoperative MRI: two due to neural compression, one due to disc herniation and one due to a spinal cord draped over the apex. Thirty-one patients did not receive an MRI; there were no significant differences between the two groups. The rate of postoperative neurologic change was 3.5% in the MRI group and 3.2% in the no-MRI group. Conclusions Based on 4.7% of cases requiring a change in the operative plan as a result of preoperative MRI, the authors recommend considering performing screening MRI in operative SK patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)124-133
Number of pages10
JournalSpine deformity
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • MRI
  • Scheuermann kyphosis
  • Spinal fusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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