Scoliosis Surgery: Understand Risk Factors and Complications

Scoliosis surgery should be the last options for curves over 45-degrees when conservative treatment fails.


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Scoliosis Surgery

Scoliosis surgery is becoming all too common in Asia. The main reason for the rapid rise in surgical interventions is possibly due to improper conservative care. Other reasons, such as delayed diagnosis are also implicated in the rise in spine operations. Our clinical teams encourage parents and patients to exhaust effective non-surgical routes before contemplating invasive procedures. But, the best advice we can provide you with is to have your kids and loved ones assessed for scoliosis early, especially if there is a familial history of scoliosis. In this section of our site, we will discuss scoliosis surgery. However, before we initiate our discussion, it will be better to give some background information on scoliosis.

Scoliosis (referred to as skoliosis in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei) impairs the quality of life and may cause neck pain, back pain, arm or leg pain, headaches or migraines, breathing difficulties, and even cardiovascular issues. These are the common signs and symptoms of moderate and severe scoliotic curves, all of which develop during childhood and worsen during adulthood. Surgeons and surgical centers advocate surgical interventions for Scoliotic Curves that progress beyond the 45-degree mark, but we encourage scoliosis patients and parents of children with scoliosis to take non-surgical scoliosis treatments as a primary option first.

What are the Surgical Outcomes for the Scoliotic Spine?

Scoliotic surgical interventions or scoliosis surgery started some 100 years ago. Although there have been improvements, there are numerous researchers who advocate non-surgical means of care even for curves at 45 degrees or worse. In our opinion, scoliosis surgery should always be a last resort. We encourage you to visit one of our centers and see what our expert clinical teams of research-based chiropractors and clinical physiotherapists can do for you or your child. Chances are we can. Often, we succeeded when other centers failed. learn more about

The American Orthopedic Association’s report based on the 1940s surgical outcomes of scoliosis revealed that 70% of scoliotic patients treated through an operative means had fair to poor results. The average improvement was 27% 2-years post-surgical intervention. But, what was interesting to note is the fact that the torso deformity remained unchanged! The shocking point was that the outcomes were even worse for those under the age of 10 years.

Can Spine Operation Cure Scoliosis?

Today, a good spinal surgeon can perform a spinal fusion to reduce the severity of scoliosis. Do keep in mind that scoliosis surgery is not a cure. In fact, there will always be some degree of the scoliotic curve even with the best of surgical interventions! Additionally, it is important to point out that the improvements achieved are often limited to a few years, some lasting a decade or so. Most surgically intervened patients will experience a gradual loss of the improvements made. Furthermore, surgery may lead to irreversible complications, which to this date is poorly understood even by the best of researchers and top American surgeons.

Is Surgery a Good Option for Scoliosis?

Is Surgery a Good Option for Scoliosis?

Most scoliosis surgeons agree that kids with severe curves (curves 45 degrees or higher) need surgical procedures to prevent the curve from worsening. However, our take is surgery is not always the best way forward. Try non-surgical means; spine operation is the last option and only when effective alternative methods fail to produce results.

In our centers, we offer the treatment and management of scoliosis for curves as severe as 60 degrees. Indeed, the 45-50 degree recommendations that most surgeons make are based on clinical data that was compiled some 40-60 years ago when therapy options were limited. Today, advanced technological breakthroughs offer comprehensive treatment approaches through superior therapeutic devices such as the RxDecom, FD-3000, Clod Laser, therapeutic ultrasound, which make it possible to offer effective nonsurgical treatment options for curves greater than 45 degrees. Therefore, we believe that the 45-50 degree mark is out of touch with the advancements in technology and the current therapeutic approaches.

The operative procedure for scoliosis is a spinal fusion. The basic idea is to realign and fuse together the curved vertebrae so that they heal into a single, solid bone. The notion of fixing scoliosis through rods and screws may sound positive, but it does have life-altering implications. Therefore, proceed with caution. If more data on the long-term impact of rods and screws were available, the decision to operate would be made easier. But, the reality is that most research conducted on outcomes is limited to only a few years’ postoperative follow-ups.

Do you need a Spine Operation?

If your curve is greater than 45–50°, it will very likely get worse even after you are fully-grown. But, that doesn’t mean you need surgery! Surgeons have been recommending surgery for curves greater than 45 degrees for the last 100 years. However, today’s modern therapeutic devices and advanced clinical approaches make it possible to treat curves that are as severe as 60 degrees.

In our opinion, surgery should be performed when there are serious risks and the non-surgical methods have failed to improve the condition or at the least prevent it from worsening. Even then, the surgical options must be approached with caution. Learn about scoliosis physiotherapy treatment for a better understanding of what you need.

When should you consider an invasive procedure for a scoliotic spine?

When should scoliosis surgery be considered

Surgery is an option, and we are confident that there are surgeons who operate on a 45-degree curve, often citing pulmonary distresses associated with severe scoliosis. As such, they recommend or justify a surgical measure. Current researchers are of mixed opinion when it comes to the respiratory benefits a scoliotic patient receives following fusion! In fact, some researchers are relating that there is little or no improvement in pulmonary function. However, our clinical teams have informed us that surgery can be contemplated when our methods of treatment fail to improve curves that are over 60 degrees.

Scoliosis is an abnormality of the spine, ribs, hips, and pelvis. In other words, as the spine bends and twists it impacts the nature of joints and bones in its vicinity. Rib deformity is a common finding in scoliotic patients. Often, when surgery is performed, ribs may be removed. Rib resection is a procedure carried out on the upper ribs of the spine for those that suffer from scoliosis or Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. The Thoracic Outlet Syndrome is a condition whereby the patient feels pain, numbness, and discomfort in the chest, arm, and even the hand. It results when nerve compression occurs in uppermost aspects of the chest.

Lung function, Rib Resecting, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and Surgery

Rib resection in scoliotic patients can reduce the pain of scoliosis for some, while it made the pain worse for others. In our opinion, the rib resection procedures or those similar to a rib resection are harmful. There are numerous cases in which a rib resection worsened the pulmonary function that it targeted to improve. Surgical procedures performed on patients under the age of 10 should be approached with great concern.

Fact: The surgical outcome for scoliosis and those operated on to improve a pulmonary function is worse in those under the age of 10.  In fact, leading researchers all agree that in our modern times, many procedures have improved. Technology offers better options that were not possible 10 to 20 years ago. So our advice is to seek out clinicians and centers that provide effective, non-surgical interventions that manage scoliotic spine.

Seek Second and Third Opinions Wehn It Comes to Spine Operations

The point we attempt to make is that surgery is an option but one that must be carefully approached. In other words, obtain the second opinion but not from doctors working at the same facility. Try to seek your second surgical opinion from a physician in a nearby town or distant part of your city. In addition to consulting different surgeons, you should also obtain the advice of non-surgical providers. If you live in Malaysia or any of the Southeast Asian nations, visit one of our centers. Chiropractic Specialty Center® has offices throughout the Klang Valley, and we will be more than happy to assist you in your quest for a better spine. Let us help your skoliosis (scoliosis) today.

Scoliosis surgery for cosmetic reasons

Scoliosis Operation for Cosmetic Reasons

We have all heard of having cosmetic surgical procedures such as facelifts, tummy tucks, nose jobs, and breast enhancements as well as other forms. The latest and craziest fad now is cosmetic surgery for the spine and joints. Yes, the cosmetic surgical procedures for spine and joint are on the rise in the United States as well as Europe and now Asia. However, worse is that cosmetic enhancements are fast becoming a justification for scoliosis surgery. If this were the 80s or the 90s, it would be aired on the “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” show!

Parents and patients who look to the possibility of cosmetic enhancements as a deciding factor when it comes to surgery need to heed the warnings. Surgical intervention for scoliosis must be based on potential clinical benefits rather than cosmetics. Unfortunately, even some surgeons use the cosmetic enhancement potential as a means of getting patients to proceed with the surgical intervention. We are of the mindset that cosmetic enhancements should not be a deciding factor at all, as there are risks involved with surgery, especially the scoliotic child. Additionally, the cosmetic improvements are often short-lived. In fact, there are numerous cases in which the cosmetic outcomes were for the worse, much worse. Therefore, the potential cosmetic enhancement should never be a subject of discussion.

Hope this article provided the information you needed for surgical intervention for the scoliotic spine. We encourage you to visit our center before opting for scoliosis surgery.

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