Spinal Screening Program

Sign up for e-mail updates. The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Spinal Screening Program was established by the Texas Legislature to detect abnormal spinal curvature in students. The program is required to adopt rules as mandated by the statute

School-based spinal screening helps to identify adolescents with abnormal spinal curves and refer them for appropriate follow-up by their primary care physician. Screening can detect scoliosis at an early stage, when the curve is mild and may go unnoticed. Early detection is key to controlling spinal deformities.

Updated Spinal Screening Policy Effective 2018-2019 School Year

Due to feedback from stakeholders, the Spinal Screening Policy has been reviewed and updated regarding ages and grades to be screened for the 2018-2019 school year. In September 2015, the Scoliosis Research Society (SRS) published a joint position statement paper with the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), the Pediatric Orthopedic Society of North America (POSNA), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and have the following recommendation: “AAOS, SRS, POSNA, and AAP believe that screening examinations for spine deformity should be part of the medical home preventative services visit for females at age 10 and 12 years, and males once at age 13 or 14 years.”

Grade-based screening is considered an acceptable alternative to age-based screening in a school setting. The grades, however, must align with the professionally recommended ages so that most children are screened at the appropriate age, or as close to it as reasonably possible.

In compliance with Health and Safety Code, Chapter 37, all children shall undergo screening for abnormal spinal curvature in accordance with the following schedule:

  • Girls will be screened two times, once at age 10 (or fall semester of grade 5) and again at age 12 (or fall semester of grade 7).
  • Boys will be screened one time at age 13 or 14 (or fall semester of grade 8).

It is incumbent on schools to identify outliers (i.e., children promoted to higher grades or held back) and ensure their screenings align with appropriate ages rather than grades. 

Updated Program Guidelines and Spinal Screening Report (M-51)

The Spinal Screening Program Guidelines is the teaching manual for DSHS-approved spinal screening certification workshops. It has been updated to reflect the changes effective the 2018-2019 school year.

School districts, private school systems, and charter schools use Form M-51 to report cumulative totals of the spinal screenings conducted at each campus.

Contact Us

Texas Department of State Health Services 
Spinal Screening Program - Mail Code 1818
PO Box 149347 | Austin, Texas 78714-9347
1100 West 49th Street | Austin, Texas 78756-3199
Phone: 512-776-7420 | Toll Free 1-800-252-8023, extension 7420 
Fax: 512-776-7256 
Email: vhssprogram@dshs.texas.gov

Last updated September 14, 2018