What Is Scoliosis Surgery?

Scoliosis surgery is a procedure to correct and prevent curvature of the spine due to scoliosis. The surgery is designed for adolescent patients with a progressing curvature greater than 40 to 45 degrees. It also helps patients with a curvature greater than 50 degrees. This is unlike a back brace, which cannot correct an already existing curve.

What Can Be Expected During Scoliosis Surgery?

During scoliosis surgery, hooks and screws are utilized to provide fixation to parts of the bony spine. Then, they are connected to a rode to enable correction of the deformity. The rods act as a temporary stabilizer for the spine while the vertebrae are fused together with a bone graft.

There are two main types of scoliosis surgery: a posterior (from the back of the spine) surgical approach and an anterior (from the front of the spine) surgical approach. The approach depends on the location of the curve and the type of scoliosis being treated.

Posterior Approach

The posterior approach is performed by creating a long incision along the thoracic (middle back) portion of the spine. There are two surgical methods for performing an open approach scoliosis surgery:

  • The open approach, where the muscles are stripped from the spine to allow the surgeon access to the bone
  • The minimally invasive approach, which preserves muscle attachments and places screws percutaneously using image guidance

In both approaches, screws and rods are inserted to hold the spine in place. Then, bone is removed for decompression of an osteotomy (removed bone) and the bone graft material is placed on the affected section of the spine to fuse the vertebrae together and correct the deformity.

It should be noted, however, that in cases where the deformity is severe, an anterior release surgery may be required prior to the posterior approach surgery. With an anterior release, the surgeon removes the spinal disc—the cushion between the vertebrae—through the front of the spine and fuses the space closed with a bone graft. In doing so, there is a better chance of the curvature being reduced and may result in a better fusion.

Anterior Approach

 The anterior approach is mostly designed for curves that exist at the thoracolumbar junction, where the end of the middle back and the beginning of the low back meet. After an incision is made in the left side of the body and a rib is removed:

  • The spinal discs are removed from the affected portion of the spine to loosen it
  • Screws and rods are inserted to hold the spine in place
  • Bone graft material is placed in the now-empty disc space to fuse the vertebrae together

In addition, a minimally invasive osteotomy utilizing a lateral retroperitoneal approach may also be performed as an option for correcting the deformity.

Complete Scoliosis Care

At IGEA Brain & Spine, our surgeons specialize in the complete care of scoliosis for adolescents and adults living with the condition. Utilizing the latest tools and techniques, our specialists provide a superior quality of care for this and other spine, brain and neuroendovascular conditions.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact us today.