Pediatric Spinal Deformities: Congenital Kyphosis

Springfield-based medical professional RaKerry (Ra’Kerry) Rahman, MD, serves the Springfield Clinic as a cervical spine and scoliosis surgeon and a clinical assistant professor. Dr. RaKerry Rahman has a special interest in spinal deformities, such as idiopathic scoliosis in adults and adolescents and congenital kyphosis.

Congenital kyphosis occurs in the embryonic phase of life, within the first six to eight weeks. It affects the frontal section of one or more vertebral discs and bodies, causing failure of formation (a Type 1 deformity) or failure of segmentation (a Type 2 deformity). The condition results in a shift that causes the spine to bend forwards sharply. It is not yet understood what causes congenital kyphosis, and there is no known genetic link. In more severe cases of congenital kyphosis, the sharp forward spinal bending puts pressure on the spinal cord, which may in turn cause leg paralysis.

Failure of formation is usually detected following childbirth, identified as a small bump or lump on the child’s spine. Failure of segmentation occurs when two or more vertebrae do not separate to form regular discs. This type of spinal deformity may remain undetected until the child begins to walk.