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Scoliosis Repair

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What is scoliosis?

Scoliosis occurs when the spine begins an abnormal curve. There are many types of scoliosis curves. Your child's doctor will explain which type your child has.

How is scoliosis treated?

Scoliosis may be treated with a brace or, in some cases, surgery is necessary. Sometimes smaller curves are simply monitored by your doctor. Since each child is different, your child’s doctor will discuss with you the best way to treat the condition. It is very important to talk to your child's doctor if you have any questions about the condition or treatment.

What to Expect Before Surgery

  • Lab tests will be done.
  • X-rays will be taken of the spine. Some patients may also require a MRI or CT.
  • The anesthesiologist will visit with you and discuss his/her part in the surgery and what to expect before and after anesthesia.
  • During your pre-anesthesia visit patients and parents will be shown the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) some patients do not require the PICU and will be transferred from the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) to 8C after their recovery in PACU
  • Your child’s doctor will explain any other tests that might be needed.
  • Before surgery it is important to decrease the number of germs on your skin. Your doctor’s office will give you Hibiclens or another similar product to bathe with the night before surgery.

What to Expect After Surgery

Your child will:

  • wake up in the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU). Parents are invited into the PACU as soon as the patient begins to wake up. Your child’s face including eyelids and lips will be puffy or swollen after surgery. This is normal due to the positioning throughout the surgery.
  • sit up on the edge of the bed the evening of their surgery. They will be turned every 2-4 hours, and allowed to sleep in their position of comfort.
  • have 2 IVs (for antibiotics and pain medication) and a bladder catheter. They may also have an arterial line for monitoring your child’s blood pressure and doing blood work.
  • pain medication will be given by a patient-controlled-analgesia (PCA) device. (See PCA Way To Grow handout for care and instructions).
  • be encouraged to cough and deep breathe every 2-4 hours and use an incentive spirometer.
  • have a dressing and may have a small drainage tube. If the surgery was done from the front (anterior), there may be a chest tube.
  • Your child may only have sips of water with medications and will be allowed to chew sugarless gum after their surgery.
  • Your child will sit on the edge of the bed by 11PM on the evening of their surgery. The next morning a physical therapist (PT) will assist your child with getting out of the bed, walking and sitting in the chair. PT will return in the afternoon for a second session. The PT or nurse will continue to help your child walk three times a day until discharged.
  • Your child’s dressing will be changed before they are discharged from the hospital. You will remove the dressing 7 days after your discharge from the hospital.
  • Once the bandage is removed your child may shower. No vigorous scrubbing of the back should occur until it is cleared by your surgeon. No tub bathing until OK with your surgeon at one of your post-operative appointments.

Home Care

  • Patients should continue to walk as much as possible when they return home.
  • Follow directions for any medications to be taken at home. Most patients are sent home on prescription pain and anti-spasm medications. Your child’s doctor will discuss other pain relievers that will work best.
  • Over the counter, non-prescription stool softeners (for example, Miralax®) may also be recommended. Patients often do not have a bowel movement until after they go home. If your child does not have a bowel movement after several days, a suppository or enema can be given to produce a bowel movement.

When to Call Your Child's Doctor

  • If the wound looks red, has white or yellow drainage, or the drainage has a foul odor.
  • If there is a lot of swelling and/or the wound is hot to touch.
  • If your child’s temperature is consistently greater than 101.5F by mouth. Slight fevers are normal for a week or so after surgery.
  • If your child’s pain is not relieved by pain medication or the pain gets worse.
  • If your child has vomiting that lasts more than 6 hours or if the vomiting is severe. A child can become dehydrated when he/she is not able to drink enough fluid to keep up with the losses. The signs of dehydration are:
    • Dry mouth
    • Sunken look around eyes
    • No tears when crying
    • Decreased amount of urine, which would mean fewer wet diapers than usual in an infant/toddler

    Your child’s nurse will discuss this with you before your child goes home.

    REMEMBER: Please call if you have any questions. Use the phone number your child’s nurse gives you.


    Disclaimer:This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

    Reviewed: 10/2017

(757) 668-7000