Surgical Procedures for Scoliosis
Surgery is usually reserved for severe cases of scoliosis with a degree of curvature over 40° to 50°.
The goals of surgery are to:
- Stop the progression of scoliosis
- Improve cosmetic appearance
- Prevent further complications, such as eventual pressure on heart and lungs
Many types of techniques can be used for scoliosis. They all have the following in common:
- Efforts to restore symmetry to the torso and pelvic areas
- Fusing (permanently joining) the back bones (vertebrae) in the area of the curve
- Supporting the vertebrae with any of a number of devices, such as steel rods, screws, or hooks
There are two approaches:
- Posterior—the surgeon enters through the back of the body
- Anterior—the surgeon enters through the front of the body
This is one of the most common surgeries performed for scoliosis. This type of surgery is a posterior spinal fusion. Entering through the back of the body, the surgeon attaches a metal rod to each side of the spine by using hooks attached to the vertebral bodies. Then, the surgeon fuses the spine with a piece of bone from your hip area (a bone graft). The bone grows in between the vertebrae and holds them together and straight. This process is called a
This operation usually takes several hours and generally requires a hospital stay for a few days after the surgery. A back brace may be necessary immediately following the surgery to support the back while it heals. Children usually return to school within 2-4 weeks and resume normal activities within 4-6 months.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.aaos.org/ .
Campbell’s Operative Orthopaedics. 10th ed. Mosby; 2003.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/ .
Scoliosis Research Society website. Available at: http://www.srs.org/ .
Last reviewed August 2008 by
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