What is Scoliosis Surgery?

Scoliosis can be diagnosed in both children and adults, scoliosis that occurs or is diagnosed in adulthood is distinctive from childhood since the underlying causes and goals of treatment differ in patients who have already reached skeletal maturity. In actively growing children the goal of treatment is to stop the progression of the curve and prevent deformity. In children with scoliosis curves between 20 and 50 degrees bracing is recommended. Surgery is the recommended treatment option for a child with severe scoliosis or a curve that has worsened to more than 50 degrees.

There are two approaches to scoliosis surgery; a posterior approach (from the back of the spine) and an anterior approach (from the front of the spine). The Posterior approach is most frequently performed for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis and involves posterior spinal fusion with instrumentation and bone grafting. During this surgery, the spine is straightened with rigid rods, followed by spinal fusion. Spinal fusion involves adding a bone graft to the curved area of the spine, which creates a solid union between two or more vertebrae. The metal rods attached to the spine ensure that the backbone remains straight while the spinal fusion takes effect.

This procedure can take several hours in children but will generally take longer in older adults. Some patients may receive bracing following the surgery. In anterior surgery the surgeon makes incisions in the patient's side, deflates the lung and removes a rib in order to reach the spine. Video-assisted thorascopic (VAT) surgery offers enhanced visualisation of the spine and is a less invasive surgery than an open procedure. Many patients will require bracing for several months post-surgery.

Possible Side Effects and Aftercare

Both types of surgeries have side effects that include a long recovery process. These surgeries are fully invasive, recovery time is dependent on the individuals age and this should be discussed with you surgeon throughout your consultations.

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