When is Surgery Necessary?

When is Surgery Necessary?


One of the most common questions we get at Children’s Hospital Andrews Institute Spine Center is: will my child need surgery? Fortunately, in most cases, the answer is no. Surgery is usually only considered for children whose spinal curves have progressed to more than 45-50 degrees. Surgery may also be considered for children whose curves are progressing rapidly.

We know surgery is scary. But parents can have peace of mind knowing that our pediatric orthopedic specialists are highly trained and use the most advanced surgical techniques available. We are the only pediatric facility in Texas, and one of the few in the country, to use robotic-assisted technology in the operating room. This technology helps improve surgical outcomes.

Why Surgery?

The two primary goals of spine surgery are to:

  1. Correct a curve as much and as safely possible
  2. Stop a curve from getting worse. When a spinal curve advances to over 45 degrees, there is a risk that it will continue to progress 1 to 2 degrees a year. -That would mean a significant curve in adulthood, and one that is harder and riskier to correct. Additionally, a significant curve can lead to breathing and heart issues.

Surgical Procedures

  • MAGEC ™ Growing Rods: MAGEC Growing Rods are used for early onset scoliosis patients who are too young to undergo a spinal fusion but have significant curves. These rods can be magnetically lengthened via remote control, making them far superior to older types of rods that require repeated surgeries as the child grows.
  • Spinal fusion: This is the most common type of spinal surgery used to correct a spinal curve and prevent it from getting worse. In spinal fusion surgery, vertebrae are fused together, usually with a bone graft, to prevent further curving. Rods and screws are placed to help keep the spine aligned while the bones fully fuse together. Renaissance® Mazor Robotic Guidance System helps improve accuracy for screw placement, potentially reducing complications. Once the bones are fused together, the spinal curve stops advancing. Most often, spinal fusion is done from the back of the spine (posterior approach). Less often, surgeons operate from the front (anterior approach).
  • Vertebral resection: Vertebral resection is a rare procedure that is performed to further correct severe curves. It involves removing part or, in some cases, all of the vertebrae in the affected level of the spine.

Find out more about diagnosis and treatment.

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