Scoliosis is a spinal condition that typically presents itself in a child during growth spurts that occur right before puberty. Although usually not a significant health concern, this condition can have many problematic results if left untreated. In severe enough cases, surgery will be required to improve the patient's health. Dr. Kim will walk you through when scoliosis surgery is necessary and what steps are necessary to help complete this process.
Dr. Kim is well versed in performing the following procedures:
What Is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine. Only about 3% of the adolescent population have scoliosis, and in most cases, they are mild. However, as children grow older, some will find their scoliosis to become more severe. When the spine's curving is left unchecked, it can reduce the amount of space in one's chest, causing difficulty breathing. That is why even mild cases need to be closely monitored. Fortunately, the signs and symptoms can be easy to identify. These warnings signs may potentially include the following:
- Uneven shoulders.
- One-shoulder blade appears more prominently than the other.
- An uneven waist.
- One hip is higher than the other.
As previously stated, scoliosis is a condition that generally occurs right as an adolescent is approaching puberty. It is always best to monitor and correct this condition when it is still a pediatric case. Even if a patient is dealing with a mild pediatric scoliosis case, it can quickly divulge into a much worse problem if left unchecked. As the child grows, the spinal curvature can worsen, making adolescent and adult life a nightmare. That is why our team will likely recommend pediatric scoliosis surgery if we believe the condition will run rampant over time.
Not all cases of scoliosis are found during the pediatric stages of life. When scoliosis presents itself or is found after this period, it is known as adult scoliosis. In other words, it takes place after spine growth is complete. There are several causes of adult scoliosis. However, the most common one involves the degeneration of the spine. Issues with the integrity of this structure cause the spine to curve, leading to scoliosis. Although adult scoliosis does not come with many life-altering symptoms and no treatment is necessary, there are times where a surgery will be recommended. If you develop any of the below, an operation will likely be in your future:
- Leg pain, weakness, or numbness.
- Loss of height.
- Uneven alignment of the hips or pelvis.
- Constant back pain.
The Goals Of Scoliosis Surgery
The primary form of care for treating and managing scoliosis is bracing. Patients wear a back brace to promote the proper spinal growth pattern. However, some patients will find that bracing is not preventing a severe case of scoliosis from occurring. When this is the case, Dr. Kim will likely recommend undergoing surgery. Doing so will potentially help to achieve the below three goals:
- Stopping the spinal curve's progression.
- Reducing the curve (usually by 50% to 70%).
- Maintain your overall trunk balance.
Types Of Scoliosis Surgery
There are generally three categories of surgery that Dr. Kim may perform. Your condition will be thoroughly assessed before determining which type of operation will be most beneficial to your state. These categories can include:
- Fusion: Fusing two or more of the vertebrae to grow together at the spinal joint and stopping/limiting spinal curving.
- Growing systems: This surgical process will involve anchoring surgical rods to the spine to correct/maintain the spine curvature during growth.
- Fusionless: Fusionless surgery can involve placing screws on the spine's outer side and then pulling them taut with a cord to straighten the structure.
Dr. Kim is wonderful, honest and trustworthy. His bedside manor is wonderful. Dr. Kim cares deeply for his patients. I felt very confident in choosing Dr. Kim as my surgeon. I recommend Dr. Kim to anyone who is considering a second opinion or considering surgery.”