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Getting Scoliosis Surgery
If you and your doctor elect for scoliosis surgery, you’ll undoubtedly have many questions. Will it hurt? How long does it take? How long am I in the hospital?
Around 300 cases of scoliosis each year in Australia are serious enough to require surgery.1 Spinal fusion is the most frequently performed surgical procedure to correct severe scoliosis.
Several factors have to be analysed before deciding if scoliosis surgery is the right treatment option for you.
There are different techniques that can be used for scoliosis surgery. Read more about posterior surgery (from the back) and anterior surgery (from the front).
In recommending the most appropriate treatment for you, your doctor may consider the following factors:
It is important that you discuss the benefits and risks of scoliosis surgery with your doctor. Only you and your doctor can decide if scoliosis surgery is right for you.
Surgery is an option used primarily for severe scoliosis (curves greater than 45 degrees) or for curves that do not respond to bracing. Surgery generally has two main goals: to stop a curve from progressing and to correct spinal deformity.
There are various techniques used for scoliosis surgery. One type of surgery involves posterior spinal fusion with instrumentation and bone grafting. This surgery is performed through the patient's back while the patient lies on his or her stomach.
During this type of surgery, the surgeon attaches a metal rod to each side of the patient's spine by using hooks or screws attached to the vertebral bodies. Then, the surgeon may fuse where required.
The bone grows in between the vertebrae and holds them together and straight. This process is called spinal fusion. The metal rods attached to the spine ensure that the backbone remains straight while the spinal fusion takes place.
The operation can take several hours. With recent advances in technology, patients are sometimes released from the hospital within a week of surgery, and do not require post-operative bracing. Some patients may be able to return to school or work in 2 to 4 weeks after the surgery. Many are able to resume all pre-operative activities within 4 to 6 months.
Another surgery option for scoliosis is an anterior approach, which means that the surgery is conducted through the chest walls, instead of through the patient's back. The patient lies on his or her side during the surgery. During this procedure, the surgeon makes incisions in the patient's side, deflates the lung, and removes a rib in order to reach the spine.
AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.
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