Skip to navigation menu Skip to content
Jump to:  A   |   B   |   C   |   D   |   E   |   F   |   G   |   H   |   I   |   J   |   K   |   L   |   M   |   N   |   O   |   P   |   Q   |   R   |   S   |   T   |   U   |   V   |   W   |   X   |   Y

A Better Way to Correct Severe Scoliosis in Kids?

A Better Way to Correct Severe Scoliosis in Kids?

TUESDAY, Jan. 4, 2022 (HealthDay News) – Young patients with early-onset scoliosis, a dangerous curvature of the spine, have two options for surgery, but a new study finds one of the procedures results in fewer complications.

For 8- to 11-year-olds, growth-friendly surgery that allows the spine to continue growing might sound preferable, but researchers say it leads to far more operations and complications than spinal fusion.

The difference was not small: Those young patients who had growth-friendly surgery had eight times more complications and nine times more unplanned trips to the operating room than those who got only spinal fusion, the researchers found.

“Patients who had growth-friendly surgery did have an increase in the length of their spine over time, whereas the spine stops growing after a spinal fusion, so this is a very important factor for families to consider – whether growth is more important than the complications,” said study co-author Dr. G. Ying Li.

“However, if you hear this difference in complications and the number of surgeries, I think most parents would lean towards the single fusion, which was also found to have a lower financial impact and burden on the families in our study,” said Li, service chief of pediatric orthopedics at University of Michigan Health's C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

Early-onset scoliosis is scoliosis diagnosed before age 10. It is potentially deadly and can cause heart and lung damage as it progresses, Li and colleagues noted in a hospital news release.

For the study, they reviewed medical records of 59 preadolescents with early-onset neuromuscular scoliosis treated with a spinal fusion surgery. Forty-three of the kids had undergone prior growth-friendly surgeries.

They found the patients who had a single spinal fusion surgery had greater curve correction and spines that were 50% straighter compared to the patients who had received growth-friendly treatment first.

The international study followed the patients for several years. The group who had single spinal fusion had an average of 1.6 surgeries, and 25% experienced complications. The group who also had the growth-friendly surgery averaged 8.7 surgeries, and 84% experienced complications.

While teens with scoliosis are traditionally treated with a single spinal fusion, young children whose spines are still growing may be treated with growth-friendly surgery.

In the growth-friendly surgery, expandable rods are placed in the spine to grow along with the child. Usually they're removed for a spinal fusion after the spine achieves sufficient growth.

In spinal fusion, rods and screws are inserted to fuse the spine in a straighter position.

The question of what to do with kids around 8 to 11 is less clear-cut than it is for older and younger children, Li explained.

“For someone who may not understand the implications, 11 years old may still be considered small and young, so they may think it’s a no-brainer to insert the expandable rods,” Li said. “However, the rods are associated with a lot of complications. Some types of rods need to be expanded surgically every six months, which brings repeated exposures to anesthesia and more infections from going through the same scar. Even the newer magnetic rods that can be expanded non-surgically have been found to have complications associated with the rods themselves. There are far fewer complications with a single spinal fusion.”

The findings were published Dec. 29 in the journal Spine Deformity. The team called for further studies, including an assessment of changes in health-related quality of life with the two options.

“The gain in spine length in the patients who underwent growth-friendly surgery prior to spinal fusion was at the expense of significantly increased rates of complications and unplanned surgeries,” Li said. “There is more to investigate, but a ‘one-and-done’ surgery with a single spinal fusion may be the best option for many of these kids.”

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and skin disease has more on scoliosis.

SOURCE: Michigan Medicine – University of Michigan, news release, Dec. 29, 2021

Reviewed Date: --

Find a pediatrician
Childrens Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
Dr. James Bennett
Dr. J. Marc Cardelia
Dr. Peter Moskal
Dr. Cara Novick
Dr. William Roache
Dr. Carl St. Remy
Sports Medicine
Dr. Joel Brenner
Dr. Aisha Joyce
Dr. Micah Lamb
Dr. David Smith
Health Tips
Abuse of Prescription ADHD Medicines Rising on College Campuses
Guidelines for Raising Smoke-Free Kids
Helping Kids Get Over their Fears
Parenting Déjà vu: Raising Your Grandchildren
Parents-to-Be Must Communicate
Reading to Kids Helps Their Development
Talking With Your Kids About Drugs, Alcohol, and Tobacco
Talking with Your Teen About Sex
When Can a Child Wear Contact Lenses
Scoliosis Quiz
Diseases & Conditions
Anatomy of a Child's Brain
Anatomy of the Endocrine System in Children
Anxiety Disorders in Children
Asthma in Children Index
Becker Muscular Dystrophy (BMD) in Children
Bone Marrow Transplant for Children
Brain Tumors in Children
Chemotherapy for Children: Side Effects
Ewing Sarcoma in Children
Growth-Related Disorders
Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) in Children
Inflammatory and Infectious Musculoskeletal Disorders
Inflammatory and Infectious Neurological Disorders
Inguinal Hernia in Children
Insect Bites and Children
Kidney Transplantation in Children
Meningitis in Children
Mood Disorders in Children and Adolescents
Myasthenia Gravis (MG) in Children
Nutrition- School-Age
Osteosarcoma (Osteogenic Sarcoma) in Children
Pediatric Blood Disorders
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Children
Preparing the School-Aged Child for Surgery
Schizophrenia in Children
Scoliosis in Children
Sports Safety for Children
Superficial Injuries of the Face and Head- Overview
Television and Children
The Growing Child: 2-Year-Olds
The Heart
The Kidneys
Your Child's Asthma
Your Child's Asthma: Flare-ups

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.