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Congenital Kyphosis

What Is Congenital Kyphosis?

Kyphosis is a rounding of the back that makes it look hunched over. Congenital kyphosis means the child was born with the condition.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Congenital Kyphosis?

The rounded back may be seen at birth as a lump in the back, or it may take time to become obvious. Sometimes it is noticed when a child starts sitting or walking.

What Causes Congenital Kyphosis?

Small bones (called vertebrae) make up the spine. They look like stacked bricks and are connected by a type of elastic tissue called cartilage . In congenital kyphosis, the front edge of one or more of the bones in the upper back doesn’t develop properly. These bone are often formed in the shape of a wedge. When the vertebrae stack up, the spine curves and makes the back round out.

Doctors don’t always know why some kids have this condition, but it is usually due to a misshapen vertebral bone in the spine. 

How Is Congenital Kyphosis Diagnosed?

To diagnose congenital kyphosis, doctors will:

  • examine the spine
  • get X-rays to see the curve in the bones
  • get an MRI for more detailed images of the spinal cord
  • get a CT scan for more detialed images of the spine bones

How Is Congenital Kyphosis Treated?

Observation. If it appears the rounding of the back isn't going to cause any problems, kyphosis may not need any treatment. Kids will have routine checkups to see how the rounding changes while they're growing. Most cases won't get worse when kids are done growing.

Surgery. Doctors might recommend a surgery called a spinal fusion for a severe case that causes pain, breathing trouble, or neurologic symptoms like tingling or weakness.

What Else Should I Know?

Kids with congenital kyphosis also can have kidney, heart, or intestine problems. So when a child is diagnosed with this problem, the doctor will order other tests to make sure the rest of the body is healthy.

If you notice lump or a hunched shape in your child’s neck or back, call your doctor to get it checked.

Reviewed by: Suken A. Shah, MD, Bernadette Fulweiler, APN
Date Reviewed: 10-01-2022

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