Scoliosis is a disorder that causes an abnormal curve of the spinal cord. While looking at the spine from the sides it has normal curves, but it looks straight from the front. A lot of people with scoliosis, have additional curves on either sides, and the bones of the spine twist on each other, forming a ‘C’ or ‘S’ shape in the spine.
Scoliosis is more common in girls than boys and it commonly appears on them at an age of 10 years. Scoliosis is hereditary and children born of a person having scoliosis is also likely to have it but the severity of the curve could vary.
Scoliosis surgery for adolescents is recommended only when the curves are greater than 40 to 45 degrees and continuing to progress and many patient’s curves are greater than 50 degrees. Scoliosis surgery can correct the curve around 50% and it can also prevent further progression of the curve.
Scoliosis surgery has different approaches, but doctors use the modern method wherein hooks and screws are used to join the long rods at the spine. The rods are used to reduce and hold the spine while the bone that is added fuses together with the existing ones.
Once the bone joins together the spine does not move and the curve cannot progress further. The rods used by the doctor are used as a temporary splint to hold the spine together in place while the bones fuse together and after the spine fuses, the bone holds the spine in place. Normally the rods need not be removed but if they irritate the soft tissues around the spine, it is removed.
Two Approaches to Scoliosis Surgery:
Posterior approach and anterior approach are two methods opted for this type of surgery. The kind of approach used is based on the severity and location of the curve.
Posterior surgical approach
In this approach a long incision on the back of the spine is done. After this incision, the muscles are stripped of the spine to allow the doctor to access the bony elements of the spine. The rods are than instrumented into the spine to reduce the amount of the curve. The bone is than introduced, inciting a reaction wherein the bones in the spine start fusing together. The bones continue to fuse even after the surgery and can continue upto 3 to 4 months or even 12 months after the surgery.
The doctor recommends the release of the disc space which involves approaching the spine from the front either through an incision or through a scope which allows releasing of disc space.