Just a 30-second screening could help bring about a dramatic improvement in the lives of children and adolescents having an abnormal curvature of the spine, called scoliosis.

This condition affects two to three per cent of the population and most people are diagnosed with scoliosis around 10-15 years of age, although it occurs at all ages. When left untreated, scoliosis could cause chronic back pain, impact heart and lung functions and become life-threatening, according to Dr. Madhav Yendru, head of spine department at Global Hospitals here.

At a press conference here on Wednesday, he said scoliosis was common in children with a variety of congenital and neuromuscular diseases but was also prevalent in seemingly healthy children with no known cause (idiopathic). He said that with early detection and proper treatment those diagnosed with scoliosis could lead healthy and active lives. However, girls were eight times more likely than boys to have a curve that would progress to a magnitude requiring treatment. Dr. Madhav said that normally 25 per cent of all scoliosis cases require medical treatment, including surgery. No treatment would be required when the curvature was less than 20 degrees and bracing could be done when it was between 20-50 degrees. He said the treatment cost ranges from Rs.5,000 to Rs.5 lakhs, depending on the degree of deformity. Due to lack of knowledge and fear of treatment, people were not seeking early treatment. He said that screening for scoliosis at school level was mandatory in many States in the United States, while there were no such rules in India.

CMD of Global Hospitals, Dr. K. Ravindranath said majority of the surgeries could be prevented if detected and treated early. He said the hospital would launch an audio-visual campaign in schools to educate teachers for identifying children with scoliosis. Jagadamba (16), who underwent surgery for spine deformity one-and-half years ago, said that she used to frequently suffer from breathlessness and stomach pain before the surgery and was no longer having that problem. Another girl, Srinidhi, said she used to feel low before the operation but was happy now.

Early detection and proper treatment will help them lead healthy lives