Does Scoliosis Surgery Require Breaking of the Spine?
Scoliosis patients who elect to have spinal surgery have many questions about all facets of the procedure, one question orthopedic spine surgeons often hear from these patients is, “Will my spine be broken during scoliosis surgery?” Scoliosis is, of course, an abnormal lateral curvature of the spine. If you’re curious about the answer of what happens during surgery for scoliosis, the first thing to keep in mind is that a surgical operation is unnecessary for the overwhelming majority of people with scoliosis. A variety of more conservative scoliosis treatment options are available, including physical therapy, stretching and exercises, postural changes, or in some cases wearing a brace. For some people these treatments for scoliosis will not achieve the desired results, and the condition may continue to progress. Surgery can provide a treatment option in many such cases. The goal of scoliosis surgery is to arrest and reverse the lateral curvature of the spine to the extent possible, while also addressing any back pain or heart or lung function problems caused by the scoliosis. The surgery is carefully planned based on the number, position and severity of the curves, the age of the patient, and other factors. Young patients with congenital scoliosis may exhibit other developmental abnormalities that must be considered in evaluating treatment options.
As for the scoliosis surgery itself, and what happens to the spine: The spine is not broken during surgery for scoliosis. What does happen during the operation is that the spine surgeon performs a procedure called spinal fusion. The procedure uses implant devices, as well as bone grafts, to provide strength to the spine where vertebrae have been compromised. This provides long-term stability and prevents the individual vertebrae from moving further and further out of position. Today scoliosis surgery can often be performed with minimally invasive surgery techniques. The incisions are small and the instruments and work is performed through narrow catheters. So not only is your back not broken during scoliosis surgery, today, with minimally invasive back surgery, the procedure barely leaves a scar.