Scoliosis - Surgery
Surgery may be used to treat severe
scoliosis. The goal of surgery is to improve a severe
spinal curve. The result will not be a perfectly straight spine, but the goal
is to balance the spine and to make sure the curve does not get worse. Surgery
usually involves stabilizing the spine and keeping the curve from getting worse
by permanently joining the vertebrae together.
Things that are
considered before surgery include:
- The person's age.
- The size,
direction, and location of the spinal curve(s).
- Whether other
treatment (such as bracing) has failed.
Surgery may be considered if:
- A child has a moderate spinal curve.
- The curve is
expected to get worse. In children, a curve may progress because a child has
not finished growing. In adults, a large curve may
continue to get worse.1
- Bracing cannot be
used or does not work.
- Scoliosis: Should I (or My Child) Have Surgery?
The main type of surgery for scoliosis involves attaching
rods to the spine and doing a
spinal fusion. Spinal fusion is used to stabilize and reduce
the size of the curve and stop the curve from getting worse by permanently
joining the vertebrae into a solid mass of bone.
are sometimes used, including
instrumentation without fusion, which
attaches devices such as metal rods to the spine to stabilize a spinal curve
without fusing the spine together. This is only done in very young
children when a fusion, which stops the growth of the fused part of the spine,
is not desirable. The child usually has to wear a brace full-time after having
What to think about
The timing of surgery for scoliosis
in children is controversial. Spinal fusion stops the growth of the fused part of the spine,
so some experts believe that surgery should be
delayed until the child is at least 10 years old and preferably 12. But even after surgery the
rest of the spine will continue to grow normally in children who are still
Surgical treatment in children and teens usually requires
several days in the hospital and limitations on activity for approximately a
year. In adults, the average hospital stay is longer.
have surgery for scoliosis that results from changes in the spine due to aging
(degenerative scoliosis) are more likely than children to have significant
complications. Even though surgery usually reduces their pain, other
complications may occur, such as
pseudoarthrosis and wound infections.