Management of low back pain accompanying sagittal plane pathologies in children: Spondylolysis/spondylolisthesis and Scheuermann’s disease

Cetik R. M., Latalski M., YAZICI M.

Journal of Children's Orthopaedics, vol.17, no.6, pp.535-547, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 17 Issue: 6
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1177/18632521231215873
  • Journal Name: Journal of Children's Orthopaedics
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Page Numbers: pp.535-547
  • Keywords: adolescent, kyphosis, low back pain, sagittal balance, Scheuermann’s disease, spinopelvic, spondylolisthesis, Spondylolysis
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Background: Low back pain in childhood was underappreciated for a long time, but recent studies report higher prevalences, up to 70%. Two of the common causes are spondylolyis/spondylolisthesis and Scheuermann’s disease. These disorders are relevant in a way they both cause significant back pain, and may disrupt the sagittal spinal balance. Purpose: To present the current evidence on the diagnosis, natural history and treatment of these disorders with a special focus on sagittal spinal alignment. Methods: This study is conducted as a literature review. Results and Conclusions: Spondylolysis and low-grade spondylolisthesis have a benign course and are typically treated conservatively. When pars repair is indicated, pedicle screw-based techniques achieve more than 90% fusion with acceptable complication rates. High-grade spondylolisthesis, however, is frequently progressive. Surgical treatment involves fusion, which can be done in situ or after reduction. Reduction is useful for “unbalanced” patients to acquire sagittal spinopelvic balance, and it is important to distinguish these patients. Despite lowering the risk for pseudoarthrosis, reduction brings a risk for neurologic complications. With re-operation rates as high as 40%, these patients definitely require careful preoperative planning. Scheuermann’s disease generally causes back pain in addition to cosmetic discomfort during adolescence. If the kyphosis is lower than 60°, symptoms typically resolve into adulthood with conservative measures only. However, it must be kept in mind that these patients may experience problems with physical performance and have a lower quality of life even when the problem seems to have “resolved”. Severe kyphosis and intractable back pain are the most frequently referred surgical indications, and surgery typically involves fusion. Proper utilization of osteotomies and proper selection of the upper and lower fusion levels are of utmost importance to prevent complications in these patients.