Scoliosis Surgery – Goals & Procedures

Scoliosis is a medical condition that’s characterized by the sideway curvature of the spine. Most people with scoliosis may not require treatments at all depending on the degree of the spinal curvature. Medical experts typically reserve surgery for infants with scoliosis or those with severe scoliosis. 

Without proper treatment, the condition can progress and cause health complications including chronic pain, limited mobility, and damage to the lungs and heart. This article provides information on the goals and procedures of scoliosis surgery.

Goals Of Scoliosis Surgery

Scoliosis surgery is reserved for people with severe scoliosis or infants who develop the condition at a younger age. If bracing and other options are not feasible for your condition, your healthcare provider may consider surgery to correct the situation. 

There are three main goals of scoliosis surgery including:

1. Stopping the progression of the spinal curve

If your healthcare provider recommends surgery for your condition, it’s because your condition or deformity is continuing to worsen. The main goal of scoliosis surgery is to prevent the curve from getting any worse. 

2. Reducing the deformity 

Scoliosis surgery helps re-rotate the abnormal twisting of your spine and correct the lateral curve by at least 50-60%. It may depend on how much flexibility is still left in your spine. Surgery helps reduce your deformity and allows you to stand up straighter by reducing the rib hump in the back. 

3. Maintaining trunk balance 

The medical expert will try to maintain your spine’s natural front/back curvature during the procedure.

Surgical Procedures For Scoliosis

There are three main surgical procedures for scoliosis. 

1. Fusion

Fusion is a surgical procedure that helps permanently fuse two or more vertebrae in order to make them grow together at the spinal joint. It helps form a solid bone that can no longer move. The latest spinal fusion surgeries help achieve better results for the patient with screws, hooks, rods, and wires placed in the spine of the patient. 

It helps the patient in recovering sooner and better correction of the spinal curvature. During the procedure, rods are anchored to the spine of the patient in order to help correct the curvature of his/her spine.  

2. Fusionless surgery

The latest fusionless surgical procedures use growth modulation on the patient’s spine. The procedure is much similar to what is being done when treating unequal leg heights in growing children. When you put constant pressure on the bone, it’s supposed to grow denser and slower. 

Pressure is applied to the outer side of the spinal curve to slow down or stop the growth of the curve’s outer side while the inner side of the curve continues to grow normally. In fact, the lateral spine curvature should reduce as the patient’s spine become straighter. A different fusionless method relies on a vertebral tethering system – where screws are placed on the outer side of the spinal curve of the patient. The vertebrae will be pulled with a cord so the spine straightens over time.

3. Growing systems 

This procedure is mostly applied to growing children with scoliosis. During the procedure, rods are anchored to the spine of the patient to correct or maintain the spine’s curvature while the child grows. The child should have another surgery every six to twelve months to lengthen the rods to keep up with the spine’s growth. Once the child’s skeleton becomes mature, a spinal fusion is recommended to correct the spinal curvature. 

As always we recommend consulting with your physician or local spine surgeon in Irvine, CA for treatment options regarding spine surgery for scoliosis. Dr Hamid Mir M.D. is a board certified spine surgeon serving all of the OC.