Surgery for Scoliosis and Kyphosis


What is it?

Scoliosis and kyphosis are two diseases of the spine that produce abnormal bending and disfiguration. In its natural position, the spine has slight curves in the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar regions. The spine curves dorsally and ventrally, but does not have distinct lateral curves. Scoliosis is identified as a distinct lateral curvature, contrary to its natural dorsal and ventral positions. Kyphosis refers to excessive bending in the ventral and dorsal orientations. Children with kyphosis often have a very rounded back and are sometimes described as “hunchbacked”. Surgery for these conditions involve the placement of rods and screws to ensure that bones are correctly oriented and attached to the spine. Surgery may be necessary for patients with extreme curves in the back.

How to Prepare

As a child’s spine curvature is examined, doctors may run a series of imaging tests to provide an accurate visual of the spine. The patient’s doctor will decide if the curves are severe enough to permit corrective surgery. Preparations should be made at home to ensure optimal comfort for the patient, as it may be difficult for a child to move or sleep.

What happens during the procedure?

Depending on the location of the curvature, surgeons may choose to operate from the back or the front. If surgeons are operating from the back, incisions are made and skeletal muscle is peeled back to access the spine. If surgeons decide to operate from the front, then a rib may be removed to access the spine. Surgeons implant screws and rods to correct the curves and prevent further disfiguration. Bone grafts may be implemented into the spine to guide proper orientation. Some children may not receive bone grafts if there is a risk of terminated bone growth. After the corrections have been made and the rods or bone grafts are secured, the surgeon closes the wounds.

Risks and Complications

* Bleeding and infection

* Allergic reaction to medications

* Paraplegia

* Failure to stop curve progression

* Failure of the spine to fuse

* Rods or screws coming loose or not attaching properly

* Cerebrospinal fluid leak


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