Table of Contents
Advances in Orthopedic Surgery
Volume 2014, Article ID 850594, 23 pages
Review Article

Ultrastructure of Intervertebral Disc and Vertebra-Disc Junctions Zones as a Link in Etiopathogenesis of Idiopathic Scoliosis

1The Spine Center, Department of Orthopaedics, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, CO 80045, USA
2Division of Basic Reproductive Sciences, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, CO 80045, USA

Received 24 September 2013; Accepted 1 February 2014; Published 23 March 2014

Academic Editor: Chan S. Shim

Copyright © 2014 Evalina L. Burger et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background Context. There is no general accepted theory on the etiology of idiopathic scoliosis (IS). An important role of the vertebrae endplate physes (VEPh) and intervertebral discs (IVD) in spinal curve progression is acknowledged, but ultrastructural mechanisms are not well understood. Purpose. To analyze the current literature on ultrastructural characteristics of VEPh and IVD in the context of IS etiology. Study Design/Setting. A literature review. Results. There is strong evidence for multifactorial etiology of IS. Early wedging of vertebra bodies is likely due to laterally directed appositional bone growth at the concave side, caused by a combination of increased cell proliferation at the vertebrae endplate and altered mechanical properties of the outer annulus fibrosus of the adjacent IVD. Genetic defects in bending proteins necessary for IVD lamellar organization underlie altered mechanical properties. Asymmetrical ligaments, muscular stretch, and spine instability may also play roles in curve formation. Conclusions. Development of a reliable, cost effective method for identifying patients at high risk for curve progression is needed and could lead to a paradigm shift in treatment options. Unnecessary anxiety, bracing, and radiation could potentially be minimized and high risk patient could receive surgery earlier, rendering better outcomes with fewer fused segments needed to mitigate curve progression.