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Sprengel's Deformity

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Updated July 07, 2005

Definition: Sprengel's Deformity is a condition of the shoulder seen in children. Children with Sprengel's Deformity have an undescended scapula that sits higher on the back than the other side. In normal fetal development, the scapula moves down the back to rest in its normal position. Children with Sprengel's Deformity have a scapula that sits too high on one side.

Children with Sprengel's Deformity are often sent to a pediatric orthopedist because of concerns for scoliosis. While these two problems may coexist, Sprengel's Deformity is a separate condition. Both conditions cause an asymmetrical appearance of the shoulder blades, but scoliosis is due to a spine deformity, where Sprengel's Deformity is due to a problem of the scapula. Children with Sprengel's Deformity may have limitations in their ability to raise their arm above their head (limited abduction).

Children with Sprengel's Deformity also have an increased risk of having scoliosis, kidney disease, and Klippel-Feil Syndrome. In children with significant problems with shoulder function, or an unacceptable appearance of the back, surgery may be done to reposition the scapula and its surrounding muscles.

Common Misspellings: Sprengle's Deformity
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