Monday, November 28, 2011

Genetic Scoliosis Test Predicts Severity of Condition

Scoliosis is a condition of the spine where there is an abnormal curvature of the spine. A normal spine curves slightly from back to front, but scoliosis causes a curvature from left to right as well. This curve can cause many problems such as one shoulder or hip being higher than the other, a protruding shoulder blade,pain, immobility, an uneven waist, legs, or arms. One solution to scoliosis is to wear a body brace to slow or stop the progression of the condition. It is best to keep the problem from getting worse while the bones are still developing and growing.  This article discussed a girl with scoliosis named Marissa. She had a mild case of scoliosis whose solution was to wear the brace almost 24 hours a day. The body brace is an unelegant solution that can be socially awkward, uncomfortable, and hard to explain to peers. Dr Baron Lonner of Scoliosis and Spine Associates in New York, gave Marissa the chance for a new genetic test that would test her scoliosis. The test would predict if Marissa's condition would get worse by using a sample of saliva that is analyzed for two genetic markers that are associated to how bad the condition would worsen before their bones stop growing.  A physical exam is also given that includes a measurement of the curve of the spine. These results yield a number called the Scoliscore which is able to predict with about 99 percent accuracy whether mild scoliosis will progress. This test a big achievement for people with Scoliosis.  For example, in Marissa's case she scored so low that she she could avoid getting X rays and doctors appointments for six months. She also did not have to worry about her scoliosis as her bones stop growing. Some children whose condition is unlikely to become a problem can even get rid of the brace.  If a person scores high on the test, proactive measures can be taken and the condition can try to be treated with a brace or a stapling procedure.  Scoliosis is an unfortunate condition that causes much anxiety, inconvenience, and embarrassment, so this new test that can predict how bad a condition will get is a big step in helping treat people with scoliosis.

1 comment:

  1. I found this article interesting because I had scoliosis when I was younger and it ended up not being too severe and fixed itself within a year or so. So i wonder what this test would have resulted in for me had it been around then.