The role of routine magnetic resonance imaging in the preoperative evaluation of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis
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The routine use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis remains controversial, and current indications for MRI in idiopathic scoliosis vary from study to study. The purpose of this study was to demonstrate the prevalence of neural axis malformations and the clinical relevance of routine MRI studies in the evaluation of patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis undergoing surgical intervention without any neurological findings. A total of 249 patients with a diagnosis of idiopathic scoliosis were treated surgically between the years 2002 and 2007. A routine whole spine MRI analysis was performed in all patients. On the preoperative clinical examination, all patients were neurologically intact. There were 20 (8%) patients (3 males and 17 females) who had neural axis abnormalities on MRI. Three of those 20 patients needed additional neurosurgical procedures before corrective surgery; the remaining underwent corrective spinal surgery without any neurosurgical operations. Magnetic resonance imaging may be beneficial for patients with presumed idiopathic scoliosis even in the absence of neurological findings and it is ideally performed from the level of the brainstem to the sacrum.