Your mother probably told you to sit up straight. Your gym teacher reminded you about keeping your shoulders back. Your dance teacher spoke about walking tall. But some kids can’t. They have a medical condition called scoliosis.
Doctors measure it in degrees. It can show up in infants, children and teenagers. The treatment approach varies by severity, age, and -- frankly -- the expertise of the doctor. One approach that is used is to have the child wear a back brace -- often for many months or even years. You can imagine how difficult that can be for a kid -- and also for a parent. Another approach is fusion spine surgery. That’s a big deal.
Now there’s another approach that is only done at a few medical centers and that may have an advantage for some children. It’s called vertebral stapling. It’s one of these approaches that should only be performed by a world expert. But when it is, it can give a child their life, and a mobile future back.
Scoliosis in your child is one of those conditions for which getting a second opinion from a specialist is imperative. If you know of a child with this problem you might recommend their parent listen to my latest interview with Dr. Mohamed Diab, a vertebral stapling expert. He’s at UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco where he helped perfect this approach. You can listen to the podcast on “Vertebral Body Stapling for Pediatric Scoliosis” at this link: http://goo.gl/pK3hT
Like the best surgeons Dr. Diab does not “push” surgery and you should always be skeptical of anyone who does. He evaluates each child to see what approach, surgical or not, is right for them. And that’s what you should expect from any physician, explaining your full range of options, whether they provide them or not. Now, when it comes to children with curved spines, there is another option to be considered to help them grow straight and with a bright physical future.
About the author: Andrew Schorr is a medical journalist, cancer survivor and founder of Patient Power, a one-of-a-kind company bringing in-depth information to patients with cancer and chronic illness. Audio and video programs, plus transcripts, help patients make informed decisions to support their health in partnership with their medical team.
Patient Power is at www.PatientPower.info and on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Schorr is also the author of “The Web Savvy Patient: An Insider's Guide to Navigating the Internet When Facing Medical Crisis" found at www.websavvypatient.com/
Interview, Mohammad Diab, MD, Chief of Pediatric Orthopedics, UCSF Medical Center, 11/06/11
Patient Power program online, Vertebral Body Stapling for Pediatric Scoliosis, http://goo.gl/pK3hT
Reviewed November 10, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith