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Jeff Gordon Children's Hospital

Jeff Gordon Children's Hospital
Affiliated with Levine Children's Hospital
920 Church Street N
Concord, NC 28025
(800) 575-1275

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 the child starts 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 . In congenital kyphosis, the front edge of one or more of the bones in the upper back doesn’t develop properly. So when the vertebrae stack up, the spine curves and makes the back round out.

Who Gets Congenital Kyphosis?

Doctors don’t know why some kids have this condition. 

How Is Congenital Kyphosis Diagnosed?

To diagnose congenital kyphosis, doctors will:

  • examine the spine
  • get X-rays to see the curve in the bones
  • do an MRI for more detailed images of the spine

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 the child is growing. Most cases will stop progressing 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 for an evaluation.

Reviewed by: Suken A. Shah, MD and Alicia McCarthy, APRN
Date reviewed: January 2019