Scoliosis Correction Surgery
Scoliosis, also known as curvature of the spine, is a common spinal deformity. Ideally, the spine runs straight down the middle of the back. In scoliosis, there is a curve, often C-shaped. This curvature may make the shoulders look uneven or the waist flatter on one side. Scoliosis initially makes its appearance during childhood and adolescence.
Patients with the more serious type of scoliosis continue experiencing curvature as adults. Scoliosis correction surgery – also known as spinal fusion- straightens the spine, giving the back a normal appearance. Contact a skilled surgeon to discuss your options and if scoliosis correction surgery would work for you.
Curvature and Scoliosis Correction Surgery
Surgery for scoliosis correction is not recommended for every patient. The overwhelming majority of those diagnosed with scoliosis do not have enough curvature to warrant surgery. However, once the curvature reaches more than 50 percent, scoliosis correction surgery is an option. Extreme curvature harms lung function. Because lesser curvatures can also seem disfiguring, some patients desire surgery to correct their appearance. Other patients with lesser curvature may suffer pain and seek surgery for symptom relief.
The amount of straightening after scoliosis correction surgery depends on the individual patient. A surgeon cannot straighten spinal bones to the point that they no longer properly protect the spinal cord.
Spinal Fusion Procedure
Various types of spinal fusion for scoliosis correction surgery exist. The type the surgeon chooses for each patient depends on several factors. These include:
- Curve location
- Spinal maturity
Most often, surgeons take a posterior approach. This method involves creating a straight incision in the back, then moving back muscles aside to reach the spine. The surgeon places hooks, wires or rods to the repositioned spine. These fasteners hold the spine in place during the period in which new bone develops. The patient has bone removed from the ribs or pelvis during the operation and grafted onto the spine. Eventually, the grafts and spine fuse together.
For particularly severe curvature, surgeons may opt for the anterior approach. This surgery is performed through an incision in the front or side. Endoscopic spinal surgery allows the surgeon to make smaller incisions in the body, performing the surgery via video scope with minute instruments. Spinal fusion is a major surgery, and the entire process takes several hours.
Potential Risks and Complications
Although most patients recover very well from scoliosis correction surgery, any spinal surgical procedure carries risks. These include:
- Blood clots
- Lung issues
- Neurological problems
When a child receives scoliosis correction surgery, the area of the spine involved no longer grows. That is explained to the parents and patients ahead of time. Unaffected parts of the spine continue normal growth, so the overall adult height of the child is not terribly affected.
Most patients stay in the hospital for three or four days after surgery. They receive antibiotics to prevent infection and medication for pain. Adult patients can usually return to work and students to school within two to four weeks.
Within six weeks, most patients are no longer in any type of pain and even over-the-counter pain relievers are unnecessary. It can take up to a year post-surgery before patients can indulge in sports and other strenuous activities. After any surgery, an implant feels odd and foreign. With time, it feels normal.
If you or your child is dealing with scoliosis and want to know if scoliosis correction surgery is an option, contact a skilled surgeon today to discuss your options.