The spine plays a major role in our human structure, keeping us upright and connecting parts of our skeleton. If there are problems with your spine, it can be very painful and may need medical attention.
If you suffer from scoliosis this means you have a curve of your spine. Scoliosis is not the same as poor posture, because it is an actual spinal deformity where the curve can be s or c shaped. The cause of scoliosis is debated; however it can often run in families and appear in late childhood or early teenage years. During this time, it is important to talk to your doctor so you can help off-set some of the structural problems that may happen down the road.
“This is a group of patients who are lost,” says Michael F. O’Brien, MD, medical director of research at the Baylor Scoliosis Center. “They’ve been told they have to live with the pain and deformity and that there is nothing else that can be done.”
Dr. O’Brien and other scoliosis care providers specialize in revision scoliosis surgeries, performing nearly 3,000 surgeries from adolescents to adults in their 80s. There is a misconception that you have to live with the pain caused by scoliosis, even if you’ve tried surgery in the past.
In fact, Dr. O’Brien visited with a man with scoliosis who was miserable for years. He had been told he had to live with the pain, but now is seeking care.
“He can now walk around Disney World for a day with his grandchildren,” says Dr. O’Brien.
Revision Surgery for Scoliosis
If you have scoliosis, you do not just have to endure the pain. The difference in your shoulder height, hip positioning, or uneven shoulder blades will begin to take a toll on your quality of life.
One option for treating scoliosis is to undergo a revision surgery. These can sometimes be difficult especially if you have had surgery in the past that was ineffective.
“We see such a wide range of complex deformities that we can usually find a successful strategy to reverse the consequences of the failed initial surgery and correct the structural or neurologic problem,” says Dr. O’Brien.
Revision surgeries are technically demanding and can be difficult because the spine is altered due to of the previous procedure.
“It can be more difficult to get a successful fusion compared to primary surgeries,” says Dr. O’Brien.
“We have to be extra careful in preparing the fusion site to make sure we have good clean bone to work with.”
In order to get a successful outcome, surgeons may use a bone-inducing protein especially in adults. This will help the bone cells to grow faster and more effectively.
“We do such a large number of complex procedures that the procedures become routine,” says Dr. O’Brien.
Dr. O’Brien and others take care of these complex patients and refer to “best processes” of the team. The team consists of office and hospital personnel who work closely with the patients to get them ready for the surgery, and then see them through the surgery and then through the initial phases of rehabilitation.
If you have scoliosis and are considering revision surgery, talk to your doctor. Depending on your situation, you may need continued observation, bracing or surgery. If you have already had surgery but the pain persists, you may be a candidate for revision surgery.