Scoliosis surgery

No matter how hard you work on your posture, you will never have a perfectly straight back. Your back is supported by your spine, a naturally curvy system of vertebrae, discs, nerves and joints. It is necessary for your spine to have some curvatures to accommodate your neck, lower back, chest and hips. When you look at the spin from the back, it does appear perfectly straight, but from the side you can see all these graceful, naturally occurring curves.

Scoliosis is a disorder that causes the spine to curve to the left or right and may cause one shoulder to be higher than the other, one side of the back to be larger and more protruding than the other and can result in the use of back braces or surgery. If you have questions about Scoliosis surgery, the following list of frequently asked questions will help you understand the basics.

Who needs Scoliosis surgery?
Scoliosis surgery is generally suggested for those children who have a curvature of the spine that exceeds 40 degrees. Adults generally do not get Scoliosis surgery unless the curves cause the patient pain. If Scoliosis is allowed to progress without corrective surgery, the curvature can get so pronounces that it causes extreme deformities and even cardiopulmonary problems.

Lastly, children and adults who suffer from pronounced deformities sometimes want Scoliosis surgery to fix their spine and their deformity, even though this may not be a necessary surgery for their health and survival.

What happens during Scoliosis surgery?
When Scoliosis surgery is done, rods are placed along the spine and are anchored by screws and hooks. The rods reduce the curves of the spine and to compress it. Additional bone may need to be added, then all the bone ends up fusing together which stops it from further curving.
In some cases, the disks must be removed from the front of the spine and they are replaced by additional bone that eventually fuses together with the other bone in the spine.

How is Scoliosis surgery completed?
When performing Scoliosis surgery surgeons either enter through your back (posterior approach) of through your chest (anterior approach). Each method requires the removal of muscle and, in the case of anterior approach, a rib.

Since extra bone will be needed in order to refill the open disc space and space left by the compressed vertebrae, the patient’s hip may be harvested or cadaver bones might be inserted.

What should I expect after Scoliosis surgery?
After surgery the number one thing you can expect is pain. Now, for some people the pain is nothing more than an annoyance. For others it is intense and requires pain medication. The pain you have will be most intense during the days immediately following your surgery and will lessen over time.

For three to six weeks after surgery you may not be able to take part in everyday physical activities. You may need someone to shop, prepare meals and clean for you during this time. You will be meeting with your physician regularly during this time, and you will receive specific guidelines regarding activity level based on the progress you make after surgery.

In the long term you can expect some scarring—between 4 to 12 inches. You should have a secure and straight back with up to 80% correction for children and 40% or so in adults.

You should have no problems with the rods in your spine and will likely never consciously feel them there. You can also look forward to a life without further surgery except in the situation of a ruptured disc.

Last updated on Oct 25th, 2010 and filed under Musculoskeletal Disorders. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

1 Response for “Scoliosis surgery”

  1. I tend to see surgery as an absolute last resort, when all else has been exhausted. There are great treatment plans that are customized for the patient that have proven to reduce curvature, relieve pain and improve life.

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