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Scoliosis Surgery: The Complete Guide

Scoliosis Surgery: The Complete Guide
Scoliosis Surgery: The Complete Guide

Scoliosis Surgery: The Complete Guide

In most cases, Scoliosis surgery is not necessary for treatment. However, in some severe cases of spine deformity, scoliosis surgery may be the only option. Advances in robotic technology have made it possible for surgeons to perform Scoliosis surgery with more accuracy than ever before.

A sideways curvature of the spine that can affect both young and elderly patients (occurring most frequently during the growth spurt that happens just prior to puberty), scoliosis is an orthopedic condition that strikes more than 3 million people in the United States each year. And for many patients, scoliosis surgery is the ultimate gateway to a productive, pain-free life.

Scoliosis Surgery: The most common spinal deformity in children

Before considering the sometimes daunting prospect of scoliosis surgery, it is first important to consider some common facts regarding this chronic and much discussed orthopedic condition.

Affecting the lives of people of all ages, scoliosis has a number of causes. It ranks as the most common spinal deformity in school-aged children. And each year, nearly 500,000 doctor’s office visits and more than 130,000 hospital visits are made by juvenile scoliosis patients. And for a certain percentage of these young patients, scoliosis surgery is the only viable means of coping with this condition.

Indeed, some young people might actually prefer undergoing scoliosis surgery to spending extended amounts of time wearing a brace.

Yet while juvenile scoliosis ranks as a widely discussed and researched condition, its adult counterpart is becoming an all too prevalent problem on today’s medical landscape.

Scoliosis Surgery in Adults

“With the aging demographic profile of the US, the burden of adult scoliosis is increasing and has a significant impact on the health of our population,” reports Sigurd 

H. Berven MD, Matthew D.Hepler MD and Sylvia I. Watkins Castillo, PhD.

Moreover, adult scoliosis patients are likely to need long-term care. In 2011, 229,000 adults were hospitalized with their scoliosis conditions–and at a cost of about $15.44 million. And annually, 74,000 emergency room visits are made by adult scoliosis patients. If a particular instance of scoliosis proves severe or painful enough for the older patient, then the prospect of scoliosis surgery for adults becomes an all too real possibility. In fact, adults, in particular, might prefer to undergo scoliosis surgery as opposed to other treatments, as they crave a more expedient return to their busy and very active lives.

Overall, scoliosis constitutes 20 percent of spinal deformity cases in this country. Yet there is hope and help for scoliosis; and thanks to amazing advances in scoliosis surgery and treatments, more and more people are finding optimum relief from this all too common affliction.

Scoliosis Surgery Procedure

Traditionally, scoliosis surgery has proven itself to be a challenging orthopedic procedure toperform. The severity level of scoliosis that a person has may be described as ‘the scoliosis spectrum.’ Its causes are unclear, although in certain cases scoliosis can be traced to illnesses like cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy. And while most instances are relatively mild in terms of their symptoms and effects, some extreme cases of scoliosis can result in deformities, disabilities, and even breathing difficulties; this owing to the fact that a serious spinal curve can limit the quantity of available space inside the chest, thus impairing lung function.

Yet one thing is certain about scoliosis: scoliosis surgery is a highly effective means of dealing with this all too common condition. And while no one likes to contemplate the possibility of scoliosis surgery, the fact remains that scoliosis surgery may guarantee the fastest road to recovery for patients.

Overall, the scoliosis surgery procedure known as spinal fusion has proven a highly effective one.  And among various forms of scoliosis surgery, spinal fusion ranks among the most popular. The University of Washington Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine Department reports in the article Spinal Fusion for the Treatment of Idiopathic Scoliosis in Children that “The success rate of stable fusion and correction of spinal deformity is very high in experienced hands. The average curve correction is approximately 70 percent and the likelihood of complications has been about 2 to 3 percent overall.” And in more severe cases of scoliosis in young people, surgery may be required to manage the condition overall and prevent an increase in its severity level.

And when it comes to scoliosis surgery in adults, Spine MD reports that spinal curves greater than 45 degrees and that come accompanied by severe degenerative changes are best treated via surgical reconstruction.

So there’s little doubt that scoliosis surgery is indeed an effective means of dealing with the condition of scoliosis. Yet the scoliosis surgery procedure is not the only means of dealing with this issue. Before considering the possibility of scoliosis surgery, the patient might first want to consider consulting a scoliosis surgeon with vast experience for an examination

Scoliosis Test: Do I Need Scoliosis Surgery?

Initially, scoliosis is detected by way of a simple test that requires the patient to bend forward at the waist with their arms hanging and their palms touching; thus allowing the examiner to check for unevenness in his/her spine. This mode of testing is required by a good number of school districts and even is carried out by trained professionals in the scholastic setting. Otherwise, a scoliosis test may take place at a doctor’s office or clinic. In either case, a device known as a Scoliometer can be used to determine the precise rotation of the spinal curve; and, if a problem is detected, X-rays can be performed to reveal the severity of the discovered curvature.

In many instances of scoliosis, scoliosis surgery or treatments of any kind may not be required. Although the disorder cannot be cured, many cases of scoliosis cause little in the way of pain, discomfort or hindered mobility for the patient. So some scoliosis sufferers may simply opt to live and cope independently with the condition, as opposed to opting for scoliosis surgery.

In some instances, however, this condition can be so painful and debilitating that it renders common everyday practices and modes of living (things as basic as walking and breathing) difficult–if not all but impossible. At worst, the patient may find it difficult to function and succeed; trying to navigate their way through everyday life without being able to walk, straighten their posture, or even breathe in a normal and productive manner.

In addition, they may come to suffer from the social and aesthetic effects that severe scoliosis can render on the life of the affected patient. Young people can become at the least self-conscious and at the most humiliated or chronically depressed if they find their posture uneven, their back hunched or their gait and body rhythms chronically unsteady.

On a regular basis, young people face a great deal of societal pressure to conform to the crowd; and young people afflicted with scoliosis face additional problems in this area, dealing with even more in the way of bullying, isolation, and related issues.

And for adults, a case of scoliosis can lead to a loss of mobility or productivity; along with awkwardness in social situations and an impediment to the pursuit of athletic and fitness activities.

Yet even in fairly severe cases, scoliosis surgery is not the only method of coping with this potentially traumatic condition. For years, doctors have treated scoliosis in children and adults by applying therapeutic braces that are intended to correct excessive curvatures and straighten the posture. Yet debates have arisen about the long-term effectiveness of bracing, and its effects on muscle development; also its impact on the comfort and social life of the wearer. Much like dental braces, back braces seldom qualify as a chosen source of apparel among teen-age patients in particular; especially if the brace proves too tight and constructive. On the positive side, bracing has been known to alleviate pressure and pain in the joints, and to contribute to the brand of physical conditioning that helps to alleviate the effects of this condition. And over the years, advances in the manufacture of orthopedic braces have lead to the development of more comfortable and pliable braces for scoliosis patients.

Beyond braces, some instances of scoliosis can be treated via exercise and nutrition options; with specialized equipment and supplements employed to amend and correct curvatures. On a related note, sensible and healthful weight loss can ease pressure on the back. And as with most orthopedic conditions, both cold and heat packs and massage or manual manipulation can help to alleviate the pain and discomfort of scoliosis. Some doctors even opt for a ‘watch and wait’ method, in which a physician simply X-rays a patient’s back at various points over time, to monitor the progress of their condition. Yet perhaps not surprisingly, this particular method of dealing with scoliosis is not considered a highly effective one.

If these methods fall short of remedying or managing a scoliosis condition, then it may indeed be time to consider the possibility of scoliosis surgery. And while the term ‘scoliosis surgery’ may prove imposing or frightening for some, the good news is that modern technology has facilitated a scoliosis surgery procedure that is both minimally invasive and highly effective.

Scoliosis surgery is generally recommended when a scoliosis curvature stands between 45 and 50 degrees, and/or when the curves are expected to worsen–affecting mobility, posture, and perhaps even lung function in the process. And, until very recently, the most prominent method of scoliosis surgery was the aforementioned spinal fusion technique; in which rods, wires, hooks or screws are attached to the backbone, in an attempt to straighten the spine. Small bone pieces are then placed over the spine, so that they grow united with the spinal bone, thus literally fusing into the correct position. Most generally, this type of scoliosis procedure tended to involve the insertion of back rods; and, thanks to recent advances in medical science, many of these rods (known as growing rods) are magnetic in composition.

Although highly effective in the majority of cases (with national statistics reporting an 85 percent success rate, resulting generally in a reduction of back pain and an increased position and balance of the spine, this brand of scoliosis surgery in adults and kids alike does not come without its drawbacks.

Scoliosis Surgery Risks

Spinal fusion surgery is a form of major surgery, with breaking rods, neurological malfunctions, lung infections, fevers, blood clots, and fevers all occurring at times as scoliosis surgery risks. In addition, the scoliosis surgery recovery time for this variety of scoliosis surgery procedure can be a lengthy one; with patients typically spending several days confined to the bed in the hospital after surgery, and often experiencing some degree of pain. Young patients may have to wait nearly a month before returning to school; and, in the case of scoliosis surgery in adults, older folks may have to wait a similar time period before returning to work. Also figuring into the scoliosis surgery recovery time, patients should expect to devote several weeks to home-based bed rest–and may not be able to resume various athletic or fitness related activities for three months to a year.

Of course, it should be noted that most if not all forms of major surgery come complete with their risks and recovery requirements; and, given the effectiveness rate of this particular form of scoliosis surgery, many patients find that the risks are worth it. Even so, the wonders of modern medical technology have produced other, perhaps even superior forms of scoliosis surgery.

With significant advances in the field of medical technology comes a form of scoliosis surgery that is minimally invasive in nature. This type of surgery comes complete with fewer incisions, less time spent in the surgery and recovery rooms, and less pain and discomfort; with this feature ranking as a favorite among patients, for obvious reasons.

In the article “What is Minimally Invasive Surgery?”, the medical website Healthline discusses the numerous benefits of this revolutionary surgical procedure.

“Minimally invasive surgery allows your surgeon to use techniques that limit the size and number of cuts, or incisions, that they need to make,” Healthline reports. “It’s typically considered safer than open surgery. You’ll usually recover more quickly, spend less time in the hospital, and feel more comfortable while you heal.”

Perhaps it comes as no surprise that one of the most popular, widely used and effective forms of minimally invasive surgery is robotic spine surgery; a surgical procedure that applies futuristic computer-driven technology to the medical issues and conditions of today. Indeed, robotic spine surgery is perhaps the most technologically advanced and forward thinking of scoliosis surgery procedures; representing perhaps the optimum pinnacle of scoliosis surgery as a whole.

And why wouldn’t it be? This procedure does, after all, involve robots! And across the globe, these innovative and almost otherworldly machines are revolutionizing nearly every industry. From the movies to manufacturing, from architecture/home design to housecleaning, from video games to virtual reality/multimedia projects, the field of robotics has evolved from an obscure concept presented in outlandish science fiction movies to practical and reliable tools that help and–in this case–heal.

Yet the robots at work in this brand of advanced, high tech scoliosis surgery are not the full-sized, almost humanistic robot clones that we see in motion pictures; rather, they take the form of compact and highly efficient medical equipment.

This variety of scoliosis surgery procedure is minimally invasive and less painful, especially in comparison with other, more traditional varieties of scoliosis surgery. It saves time, anxiety and discomfort for the patient, and tends to deliver optimum and long-lasting results.

This new age scoliosis surgery comes complete with a revolutionary brand of surgical procedure; one that actually begins days before the actual operation.

“Hey, wait a minute!” You might be thinking at this point. “I thought you just said that this variety of scoliosis surgery would save time!”

OK OK, so let us explain. The process involved with this form of scoliosis surgery commences several days before the actual procedure when images are taken of the patient to create a sort of three-dimensional image of the spine; an image used to determine a sort of blueprint for the scoliosis surgery, pinpointing the specific areas that require the surgeon’s attention.

This advanced, minimally invasive form of scoliosis surgery saves the patient from a lot of poking and prodding that generally takes place through the process of traditional surgery. Armed with their highly detailed three-dimensional images, the surgeon inserts miniature surgical instruments through smaller incisions by way of robotic arms; allowing the presiding physician an unparalleled range of motion and precision.

Through this new age form of scoliosis surgery, a high-definition, three-dimensional camera guides the surgeon through the surgical procedure by way of a computerized monitor and console; and by accessing this literal inside view of the patient’s back, the surgeon performs every move of the surgery with the aid of their robotic counterpart.

Scoliosis surgery recovery time

The advanced technology of robotic science has revolutionized the entire field of scoliosis surgery, and even minimizes scoliosis surgery risks. In general, the process and procedure of robotic surgery results in less scarring, trauma, infection, and recovery time than more conventional surgical methods. The patient will likely experience a less painful surgical procedure, one involving a smaller quantity of blood loss, fewer complications, and a much faster return to normal activities via a far more abbreviated scoliosis surgery recovery time.

Plus this singular variety of scoliosis surgery often results in less infection, along with minimized damage to skin, muscles, and tissue. These factors alone will help to ensure a shorter scoliosis surgery recovery time, and shorter hospital stay, ensuring that your experience after scoliosis surgery is far more comfortable and easier to navigate.

This form of scoliosis surgery might hold a particular benefit for very young patients, who will appreciate its minimally invasive techniques and the relative speed with which this form of scoliosis surgery is performed. And, of course, what kid doesn’t love robots?!

After scoliosis surgery

Of course, as with any form of major surgery, robotic spine surgery does come complete with the possibility of some scoliosis surgery risks. Surgical incisions of any kind, no matter how small or minor, can result in a certain degree of scarring or discomfort; in addition, fusion surgery can result in loss of motion of the spine.  And of course, any complication could result in a longer scoliosis surgery recovery time, and perhaps a longer recovery period after scoliosis surgery.

After scoliosis surgery, patients are likely to stand taller, walk straighter, and move throughout their daily routines with less pain and increased confidence. And of all varieties of scoliosis surgery, this is particularly true of the robotic procedure; which, through its amazing level of high tech precision and enhanced effectiveness, is offering a whole new lease on life to those dealing with this painful and all too common condition.

Through his decade’s worth of experience in the orthopedic field, Dr. Payam Moazzaz has become an expert in the exciting field of minimally invasive surgery and its exciting newer subset, robotic spine surgery. He was in fact among the first surgeons to perform robotic spine surgery via a first-generation platform that garnered FDA approval in 2011; he stands as among the first physicians to make use of a robotic spine surgery platform known as Mazor X–a platform introduced on a national level in 2016. This revolutionary evolution in surgical technology has been utilized in more than 120,000 surgical procedures around the globe. Dr. Moazzaz has performed over 500 spine surgeries using robotic technology, which is the most robotic spine surgeries in the State of California.

In addition, Dr. Moazzaz is an esteemed specialist in minimally invasive scoliosis surgery. If all noninvasive, nonsurgical modes of treatment prove ineffective, he will guide the patient through this gentle and effective procedure; ultimately setting them back on the all-important path toward health and mobility. Contact New Era Spine today to arrange a consultation on the subject of robotic spine surgery and scoliosis surgery.