Background: The aim of surgical treatment for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis is primarily to prevent progression and secondarily to correct the deformity, whereas the goal of surgical treatment of pediatric spondylolisthesis is mainly to relieve pain and, in patients with a high-grade slip, to prevent progression. The aim of this study was to compare the long-term health-related quality of life after surgery for idiopathic scoliosis and spondylolisthesis in adolescence.
Methods: One hundred and ninety patients, with a mean age of fifteen years, who were treated surgically for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis and 270 patients, with a mean age of sixteen years, who were treated surgically for low-grade or high-grade spondylolisthesis participated in the present study. The mean duration of follow-up was 14.8 years for the scoliosis group and 17.0 years for the spondylolisthesis group. Radiographs were made preoperatively, at the time of the two-year follow-up, and at the time of the final follow-up. Additionally, a physical examination was performed, and the Scoliosis Research Society-24 and Short Form-36 questionnaires were completed at the final follow-up evaluation.
Results: The median total score on the Scoliosis Research Society questionnaire was 102 (range, 63 to 118) for the scoliosis group and 95 (range, 42 to 115) for the spondylolisthesis group (p < 0.001). After adjusting for age at the time of surgery, gender, and duration of follow-up, the patients with scoliosis had a significantly higher odds ratio for a good total score (=90 points) on the Scoliosis Research Society questionnaire than did patients with spondylolisthesis (odds ratio, 2.65 [95% confidence interval, 1.58 to 4.44]; p = 0.0002). Patients in the scoliosis group had better values for general self-image, postoperative self-image, and postoperative function than did patients in the spondylolisthesis group (p < 0.001). Sixteen patients in both groups reported that they had back pain often or very often at rest. The standardized physical component scale on the Short Form-36 yielded slightly but significantly better values for the scoliosis group (median, 53.8 points; range, 32 to 61 points) compared with the spondylolisthesis group (median, 53.4 points; range, 27 to 59 points) (p = 0.01).
Conclusions: Patients have good long-term health-related quality of life after surgery for idiopathic scoliosis and spondylolisthesis in adolescence. Patients who have surgery for idiopathic scoliosis are likely to have better long-term outcomes than are patients who have surgery for spondylolisthesis. It is possible that back pain in adolescence may affect quality of life more than spinal deformity does.