With all the possibilities in medicine at this time, physicians and researchers support each other in the effort to expand medical knowledge. Dr. Lonner is actively involved with research that offers hope for an earlier diagnosis and treatment of Idiopathic Adolescent Scoliosis. He is working with geneticists and physicians across the country to help find the genetic causes for scoliosis. Dr Lonner’s practice is the only site in the NY Metropolitan area involved in this genetic research. The hope is that by finding the genes that contribute to scoliosis, new approaches to diagnosis and treatment can be developed.
Scoliosis is generally diagnosed between ages 10 and 12 during school screenings or pediatrician visits. To confirm the disease, patients are seen by orthopaedic scoliosis specialists who order X-rays to determine severity of the curvature. Non-severe cases of scoliosis are carefully observed by specialists through periodic X-ray screenings. If the curve continues to progress, patients are often required to wear a brace. Surgery is required for spinal curves greater than 45 degrees or curves that do not respond to bracing. The goals of surgery are to stop a curve from progressing during adult life and to diminish spinal deformity.
Dr. Lonner is working with the researchers at Axial Biotech, Inc. in Salt Lake City. The laboratory has established a core team of physicians and scientists as well as state-of-the-art gene analysis technologies to identify the genes that may cause scoliosis. With insights made possible through genetic discoveries, the underlying causes and biological pathways of scoliosis will be better understood. Through genetic research we hope to develop diagnostic and prognostic tests for improved scoliosis treatment. The test is performed by analyzing the patient’s saliva. It is painless and takes little time to perform. In time it is expected that we will be able to determine in advance the individual at risk for developing progressive scoliosis which will permit the treating specialist to offer early treatment before spinal curvature becomes severe enough to limit function or require a major surgical procedure. It is likely that smaller surgical procedures will be developed that will result in a halting or straightening of a small curvature as a result of early genetic detection.