In adolescent patients with idiopathic scoliosis, back braces decreased the progression of curves to the point where surgery would be needed, researchers reported.
In a prospective, partly randomized study, bracing led to treatment success in 72 percent of patients, compared with 48 percent of those who were simply observed over time, according to Stuart Weinstein, MD, of the University of Iowa in Iowa City.
Treatment success was significantly associated with how long patients wore their braces on a daily basis, Weinstein and colleagues reported online in the New England Journal of Medicine and at the annual meeting of the Scoliosis Research Society in Lyon, France. In the lowest quartile of wear time -- less than 6 hours a day -- the rate of treatment success was 41 percent, compared with between 90 percent and 93 percent in the top two quartiles, defined as more than 12.9 hours a day.
The multicenter study of 242 patients, ages 10 to 15, was stopped early because of the efficacy of bracing, the researchers reported.
Bracing is just one of the available treatments, and there's no specific marker that helps doctors and patients decide on which therapy to use, commented William Taylor, MD, of the University of California San Diego in La Jolla.