Spirometric indices, lung volumes, maximum voluntary ventilation, and maximum inspiratory and expiratory pressures were measured in 44 adolescents with mild idiopathic scoliosis (spinal curvature less than 30 degrees). All were symptom free, but six (13.6%) showed a restrictive defect with forced vital capacity less than 80% of predicted. In 12 subjects (27.3%) maximum voluntary ventilation was reduced to less than 80% of predicted normal. Forced vital capacity was significantly correlated with maximum inspiratory pressure and with maximum expiratory pressure, measures of respiratory muscle strength, but was not related to the degree of thoracic curvature. When maximum inspiratory pressure and forced vital capacity were corrected for differences in body size these variables remained positively correlated, most significantly in the girls. These data indicate that ventilatory function may be impaired in mild, idiopathic scoliosis and that the force developed by the respiratory muscles is a more important determinant of this impairment than the radiologically determined degree of spinal curvature.
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