Fu-Jun Luan, Yi Wan, Kin-Cheung Mak, Chi-Jiao Ma, Hai-Qiang Wang

December 2020, Volume 29, Issue 12, pp 3123 - 3134 Review Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-020-06573-7

First Online: 27 August 2020


The study aimed for unraveling the long-term health impact of cumulative radiation exposure from full-spine radiographs on children/adolescents with scoliosis.


All cohort, case–control or cross-sectional studies about radiation exposure to scoliosis patients with follow-up period as 20 years or more were included. Meta-analyses were performed for outcomes reported in two or more studies.


A total of 9 eligible studies involving 35,641 participants between 1912 and 1990 fulfilled the inclusion criteria, including 18,873 patients with scoliosis and 16,768 controls as regional matched general population. The average number of full-spine radiographs was 23.13 (range: 0–618) according to 14,512 patients between 1912 and 1990 in five studies. The estimated mean cumulated radiation dose of breast was 11.35 cGy. In comparison with controls, pooled incidence rates of cancer, breast cancer and cancer mortality of patients with scoliosis were statistically significant higher [rate of cancer, odds risk (OR) = 1.46, p 


Based on 35,641 participants with over 20 years’ observations from 1912 to 1990, repeated radiographs and pertaining cumulative radiation dose resulted in elevated rates of cancer, breast cancer and cancer mortality for children/adolescents with scoliosis in comparison with matched general population. It is recommended that low-radiation or radiation-free and efficient methods should be used to monitor the evolution of children/adolescents with scoliosis.

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