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Bracing for juvenile idiopathic scoliosis: retrospective review from bracing to skeletal maturity



Juvenile idiopathic scoliosis (JIS) outcomes with brace treatment are limited with poorly described bracing protocols. Between 49 and 100% of children with JIS will progress to surgery, however, young age, long follow-up, and varying treatment methods make studying this population difficult. The purpose of this study is to report the outcomes of bracing in JIS treated with a Boston brace™ and identify risk factors for progression and surgical intervention.


This is a single-center retrospective review of 175 patients with JIS who initiated brace treatment between the age of 4 and 9 years. A cohort of 140 children reached skeletal maturity; 91 children had surgery or at least 2 year follow-up after brace completion. Standard in-brace protocol for scoliosis 320° was a Boston brace for 18-20 h/day after MRI (n = 82). Family history, MRI abnormalities, comorbidities, curve type, curve magnitude, bracing duration, number of braces, compliance by report, and surgical interventions were recorded.


Children were average 7.9 years old (range 4.1-9.8) at the initiation of bracing. The Boston brace™ was prescribed in 82 patients and nine used night bending brace. Mid-thoracic curves (53%) was the most frequent deformity. Maximum curve at presentation was on average 30 ± 9 degrees, in-brace curve angle was 16 ± 8 degrees, and in-brace correction was 58 ± 24 percent. Patients were braced an average of 4.6 ± 1.9 years. 61/91 (67%) went on to posterior spinal fusion at 13.3 ± 2.1 (range 9.3-20.9) years and curve magnitude of 61 ± 12 degrees. Of those that underwent surgery, 49/55 (86%) progressed > 10°, 6/55 (11%) stabilized within 10°, and 0/55 (0%) improved > 10° with brace wear. No children underwent growth-friendly posterior instrumentation. Of the 28 who did not have surgical correction, 3 (11%) progressed > 10°, 13/28 (46%) stabilized within 10°, and 12/28 (43%) improved > 10° with brace wear.


This large series of JIS patients with bracing followed to skeletal maturity with long-term follow-up. Surgery was avoided in 33% of children with minimal to no progression, and no child underwent posterior growth-friendly constructs. Risk factors of needing surgery were noncompliance and larger curves at presentation.

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