Surgical Treatment of Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis

Scoliosis surgery, as you will come to understand, requires an extensive amount of knowledge, training, expertise, and precision.  At COA, our spine surgeons are all fellowship-trained and are amongst the leaders in their field in the use of navigation and robotics during spinal surgery.  These cutting-edge technologies have been found to improve the accuracy of the surgery and decrease the risk to your child.  Collectively, the COA spine team perform greater than 200 number of scoliosis surgeries per year.  All surgeries are performed at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and most on the Scottish Rite campus.  Your child will be in the care of surgeons, anesthesiologists, and nurses that have protocols for spinal fusion surgeries.  Rest assured that all of us have cared for hundreds of children with the same surgery that your child may need.  Without a doubt, your child is in good hands with the COA spine team.   If you are concerned that your child has a scoliosis in need of treatment, schedule an appointment with one of our spine experts today. 

Spinal Fusion

The type of surgery performed for a child with scoliosis is called a spinal fusion. The spine is made of multiple joints, and a fusion means that the joints are purposely fixed so that they are no longer capable of moving. The main goal of scoliosis surgery is to prevent a large curve from worsening, so by performing a spinal fusion, the curve will be fixed so it can no longer move. 

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Scoliosis Surgery

The main goal of scoliosis surgery, as stated above, is to fuse the spine and prevent the curve from progressing. The goal is not too completely straighten out the spine. In some instances, with flexible curves that are relatively small, nearly complete correction can be attained. In certain circumstances, achieving complete correction can be dangerous or sometimes just not possible at all. Your COA surgeon can discuss this in more detail. Rather than "complete curve correction", your surgeon will strive to achieve something called spinal balance.

The human body was designed to be as energy-efficient as possible. With this in mind, and with regards to the spine, the bones and muscles are working the least amount if the head is sitting directly over the pelvis. This ideal position is know as having normal spinal balance. Prior to scoliosis correction, the spine is often "off balance" in both the front (coronal) x-rays as well as the side (lateral) x-rays.

How is the surgery performed?

Most of the time, the spine is approached posteriorly (from the back). Screws are placed into a portion of the spine known as the pedicle. Once the screws are placed, the screws are then connected to rods, and the rods are able to "untwist" the spine. There are multiple other techniques that your COA surgeon uses to allow both the spine to fuse as well as for the spine to be balanced. Under most circumstances, your surgeon will perform the operation with either robotic assistance or navigation assistance. Both of these technologies are designed to improve the accuracy of placing the screws into the spine. For more information about the surgery, please click here.

More questions?

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