SCOLIOSIS SURGERY: POSTERIOR APPROACH LIVING WITH SCOLIOSIS

The posterior approach for spinal surgery is performed through the back.

WHAT IS THE POSTERIOR APPROACH?

The posterior approach is the most common type of spinal surgery for scoliosis. The procedure involves posterior spinal instrumentation (the attachment of rods, hooks, and screws) combined with spinal fusion. In a posterior operation, the surgeon accesses the spinal column through the patient’s back.

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WHEN IS THIS APPROACH USED?

The majority of corrective spinal surgeries for scoliosis use the posterior approach, which is the most traditional method of accessing the spine for spinal surgery. Usually a decision to use the anterior approach instead will be an exception rather than the rule, based on variety of factors including the type of scoliosis, location and severity of the curve, and surgeon’s preference.

THE OPERATION

As soon as you enter the operating room, you will be given anesthesia to put you to sleep for the operation. When you are asleep, your anesthesiologist will place a breathing tube to help you breathe during surgery. He or she will also place a variety of catheters in your veins, which will monitor your heart function, blood pressure, fluid status, and depth of anesthesia during the procedure. Finally, you will be positioned on your stomach and your arms and legs will be padded for stability.

WHAT TO EXPECT DURING THE INCISION

Your surgeon will make an incision down the center of your back. The exact location and length of the incision will depend on the location of your scoliosis curve and how much access your surgeon will need to correct it. The incision will be slightly longer than the length of the planned fusion.

INSTRUMENTATION AND ROD PLACEMENT

To correct your scoliosis curve, your surgeon will implant a rod to straighten and stabilize the curve of your spine. They will typically use instrumentation (hooks, screws, and wires) to create “connection points” that allow the rod to be securely attached to your spine.

FUSION

After the instrumentation and rods have been placed, your surgeon will insert bone graft or a bone graft alternative between the vertebrae. The bone graft promotes spinal fusion, helping the vertebrae to heal together into solid bone.

INCISION CLOSURE

Your surgeon will then complete a final tightening of the instrumentation to make sure the rod is secure before closing up your incision. You will wake up lying on your back in your hospital bed.