DNA Test May Provide Straight Answer To Spine Treatment

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After doctors discovered a 20 degree curve in her spine, 11-year-old Isabelle Rogers was diagnosed with scoliosis, a twist of the spine that can result in noticeable deformity. To prevent that curve from getting any worse, she wound up having to wear a large brace from the waist up 23 hours a day.

“All of my friends ended up knowing ’cause I just told them all. And they understood really well. But like the people who I don’t know just bump into them in the hallways and they’re just like ‘Oh what’s on your back, why is it so hard and weird?'” Rogers said.

“At first I was just concerned for her socially. I think I was projecting my own feelings and how I would take it,” said Isabelle’s dad, Christopher Rogers.

Isabelle is out of the brace now because of a new genetic test called Scoliscore. By simply spitting into a cup, doctors are able to learn through DNA analysis just how severe a patient’s condition will become through a scoring system. Up until now, there’s been no such test.

“The score is between one and two hundred. And when the patient scores 50 or less they’re in that very low range where there’s minimal likelihood of curve progression to a severe range,” said Dr. Baron Lonner of New York University Hospital for Joint Diseases.

Isabelle’s score was 16, meaning that her risk of the twist in her spine getting worse was minimal.

“We know that there is significant psychological impact of bracing on adolescent girls and boys for that matter. If we are able to avoid unnecessary bracing that’s an excellent addition of the study,” Lonner said.

Additional medical bills and healthcare costs can also be avoided.

“We are seeing a lot of patients subject themselves to X-rays and to visits to the doctor’s office. We can avoid unnecessary care through the use of this genetic test,” Lonner said.

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