Keith Bridwell

Keith Bridwell, MD

J. Albert Key Distinguished Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery

Professor of Neurological Surgery

Founder, Washington University Spine Fellowship

Founder, Pediatric/Adult Spinal Deformity Service

Principal Investigator, NIH/RO1 (AR055176-01A2) - A Multi-Centered

Prospective Study of Quality of Life in Adult Scoliosis

Phone Icon

(314) 514-3500

Dr. Bridwell has clinical expertise in scoliosis, kyphosis, spondylolisthesis and related spinal deformities and complex spinal pathologies in both pediatric and adult patients. He also specializes in complex spinal disorders of the thoracic and lumbar spine and complex revisions of spinal reconstructive surgery.

Common Diagnoses Treated

  • Coronal and sagittal imbalance syndromes
  • Idiopathic, neuromuscular, congenital, post-traumatic, post-infectious and iatrogenic deformities
  • Kyphosis
  • Kyphoscoliosis
  • Scoliosis (pediatric and adult)
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Spondylolisthesis

Clinical Office Locations

  • Center for Advanced Medicine (CAM)

    Barnes Jewish Hospital

    4921 Parkview Place

    St Louis, MO 63110

Hospital Affiliations

  • Barnes-Jewish Hospital
  • St. Louis Children's Hospital

Academic Office Mailing Address

  • Washington University School of Medicine

    Campus Box 8233

    660 Euclid Avenue

    Saint Louis, MO 63110

Research Interests

Center on improving treatment of complex spinal deformities, in particular idiopathic adolescent scoliosis and adult idiopathic scoliosis, kyphosis and spondylolisthesis, sagittal and coronal imbalance syndromes, high-grade spondylolisthesis, and clinical outcomes in idiopathic and neuromuscular scoliosis and adult spinal deformity. Also innovative methods to achieve spinal fusion more readily, reduce the need for iliac bone graft harvesting and substantially reduce the invasiveness and morbidity of surgical spinal fusions while obtaining a better clinical outcome, fewer complications and a lower nonunion/pseudarthrosis rate.

Research Studies

Dr. Keith Bridwell is the Primary Investigator for a multicenter study previously funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to evaluate the effectiveness of nonoperative and operative treatments in adults with lumbar scoliosis and to identify important clinical and radiographic factors that may influence outcomes in the management of adults with symptomatic lumbar scoliosis (ASLS).  NOTE: We are no longer enrolling new patients in this study.  Enrollment was complete in 2014. This study is now in follow-up. For additional information, please contact Christine Baldus, RN, MHS via email or call (314) 747-2655.

The purpose of this study: The goal of this study is to determine which treatments are most likely to help patients with symptomatic lumbar scoliosis. The current treatment options available are nonoperative treatment (specifically, intensified physical therapy, medications, spinal injections and/or observation) and operative treatment (spinal fusion and deformity correction surgery). By tracking treatments received and the patient’s self-reported pain, activity and satisfaction, we hope to learn which treatment options are the best for which patients under what circumstances.

Inclusion Criteria: All patients were 40 – 80 years of age at the time of enrollment with a double major or thoracolumbar/lumbar scoliosis. The lumbar Cobb angle had to measure a minimum of 30 degrees. Patients could not have had prior spine fusion surgery of their thoracic or lumbar spine.  

Study Description: Patients could participate in two different ways:   

  • Randomized study: Random study assignment means information about the patient was entered into the computer (age, gender, scoliosis curve size, etc.). The computer then assigned the patient to operative or nonoperative treatment.   
  • Observational study: Patients declining random study assignment were offered to participate in the Observational study where they, along with their doctor, chose the treatment plan (operative or nonoperative) that was most appropriate for them.   

If the patient was assigned or chose operative treatment, surgery was usually scheduled within the next 6 months. If the patient was assigned/chose nonoperative treatment, treatments began as soon as possible. Nonoperative treatments usually include a combination of treatments (medications, physical therapy, injections, bracing, etc.) designed specifically for the participant. Participants receiving nonoperative treatments could “crossover” to operative treatment if they and their doctor see no improvement.

In this study, ALL patients receive care. There is no “placebo” in this study. There are no experimental therapies, medications or operations being used. All treatments for all participants are considered standard of care. All patients are monitored closely by completing questionnaires about their health status, spine treatments, pain, activities and satisfaction every six months and returning to the study center for periodic clinical visits. All patients will be followed for 8 years. Patients are reimbursed for their time. Their contributions, through participation, will help us understand the best treatment options for adults with lumbar scoliosis.



Scoliosis Research Society: Membership Chairman (1991-1992), Program Chairman (1995), Board of Directors (1995-1997; 2000-2004; 2005-2006), First Vice President (2000-2001), President-Elect (2001-2002), President (2002-2003). Local host Scoliosis Research Society meeting St. Louis, MO in 1997. The Scoliosis Research Society is the leading international society for the study of spinal deformity and the oldest orthopaedic specialty society in North America. Washington University Spine Fellowship Program – Founder (currently trains four spinal fellows per year) initiated in 1991 to present. To-date has trained 71 fellows, with 4 currently in training. Author of over 315 peer-reviewed manuscripts and 77 textbook chapters in the field of spinal surgery, including editor-in-chief of The Textbook of Spinal Surgery, 1st, 2nd and 3rd editions. The 1st edition was published in 1991 and the 3rd edition was just published within the last four years. Deputy Editor of SPINE for spinal deformity. He has served as course faculty at over 200 national and international meetings. He has served as Program Chairman at 45 national and international meetings. He has presented over 530 abstracts at national meetings. He has presented over 205 invited professorships and lectureships. Dr. Bridwell came to the faculty at Washington University in St. Louis in 1984 as the first subspecialty-trained spinal surgeon. He practiced all aspects of spinal surgery, specializing in spinal deformity (scoliosis, kyphosis and spondylolisthesis in pediatric and adult patients). He expanded the program in 1991 by initiating the spinal surgery fellowship. From 1991 to present he has grown the spinal service to where there are now six full-time spine surgeons working in the Spine Section of the Orthopaedic Surgery Department. Dr. Bridwell did his college and medical school training at Washington University in St. Louis. He graduated from medical school in 1977 at the age of 24. He then completed his orthopaedic residency at Washington University in St. Louis/Barnes Hospital/St. Louis Children’s Hospital. He then did spinal surgery fellowships in Chicago.

Board Certifications

  • American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery, 1985; American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 1987


  • Orthopaedic Surgery, Barnes-Jewish Hospital
  • Washington University School of Medicine


  • Spine/Scoliosis Research, Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Hospital
  • University of Illinois Hospital
  • Chicago Shriners Hospital

Honors and Awards:

  • President of the Scoliosis Research Society (2002-2003)
  • Scientific recognition: Russell L. Hibbs Award, 1987
  • Best Basic Science Paper, Scoliosis Research Society Meeting
  • Walter P. Blount Award, 1987, Best Poster, Scoliosis Research Society Meeting
  • Russell L. Hibbs Award, 1991, Best Clinical Paper, Scoliosis Research Society Meeting
  • John H. Moe Award, 1995, Best Poster Exhibit, Scoliosis Research Society Meeting
  • Outstanding Paper Award, 1999, North American Spine Society Meeting
  • Russell L. Hibbs Award, 2002, Best Basic Science Paper, Scoliosis Research Society
  • Louis A. Goldstein Award, 2005, Best Clinical Poster, Scoliosis Research Society
  • The Best Doctors in America 1996 to present and listed in 2007-2008 database
  • Lifetime member of Marquis Who's Who in America
  • Heartworks St. Louis, Hero with a Heart Honoree, National Marfan Association, St. Louis, MO, February 2011
  • Awarded a 7-year NIH/RO1 grant (AR055176-01A2) entitled A Multi-Centered Prospective Study of Quality of Life in Adult Scoliosis to study symptomatic adult spinal deformity. Total funding amount $2,526,530; 2010-2017. He is studying the operative and nonoperative treatment of progressive symptomatic adult spinal deformity and scoliosis. This is the only Federally funded NIH grant which studies adult spinal deformity and the only grant which studies operative treatment of spinal deformity and scoliosis.
  • Leon Wiltse Award, 2016, North American Spine Society

Make an Appointment

Dr. Bridwell’s Office Locations

Center for Advanced Medicine (CAM)

Barnes Jewish Hospital

4921 Parkview Place

St Louis, MO 63110


The Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has no control over third-party websites and does not review such websites. The university disclaims any responsibility for the content of third-party websites and the use of any information on these sites.