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Spine Surgery Guide

Facts and Tips about Scoliosis

To alleviate discomfort and slow the progression of scoliosis—or abnormal side-to-side spinal curvature—St. Louis Children’s Hospital offers advanced, high-quality treatment options.

According to the National Scoliosis Foundation, scoliosis affects nearly 6 million children, teens and adults, with the typical onset occurring between ages 10 and 15. While everyone’s spine has a natural curvature, scoliosis tends to worsen over time and is characterized by the following:

  • body leaning to one side
  • head uncentered above the pelvis
  • shoulders and rib cages at different heights
  • one raised hip
  • uneven waist

  • Screening and Treatment
    Scoliosis is best treated when found early and can be detected during a routine school screening. Further diagnostic action can be taken by a physician with an X-ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of the spine to help determine the severity of the curve. With this information, the most appropriate treatment—usually bracing or surgery—can be determined. “The goal of bracing is to prevent patients’ spinal curves from getting worse,” says Matthew Dobbs, MD, orthopedic surgeon on staff at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “For extreme curves, spinal fusion surgery can be a beneficial treatment option for preventing curve progression.”
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How is scoliosis diagnosed?
Your child's caregiver may need to have a complete health history, including information about his growth and development. Past diseases or surgery, and diseases in your family are also important information. The caregiver may ask your child to bend forward, which may help show any deformities on his back. Your child's shoulders, hips, legs, and ribs may also be checked. How well your child moves and feels things may also be tested. Your child may also need the following tests:

Several x-ray pictures may be taken of your child's spine, including views taken from the back and sides. Your child's caregiver will carefully look at the x-rays to check the curve or shape of the spine. Other problems, such as broken, incomplete, or fused bones may also be seen. Your child's caregiver may also check if your child's bones are still growing.

CT scan:
This is also called a CAT scan. A special x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your child's body. It may be used to look at your child's bones, muscles, brain, body organs, and blood vessels. Your child may be given dye by mouth or in an IV before the pictures are taken. The dye may help your child's caregiver see the pictures better. People who are allergic to iodine or shellfish (lobster, crab, or shrimp) may be allergic to some dyes. Tell the caregiver if your child is allergic to shellfish, or has other allergies or medical conditions.

This test is called magnetic resonance imaging. During the MRI, 3-D (three-dimensional) pictures are taken of your child's body. An MRI may be used to look at your child's brain, muscles, joints, bones, or blood vessels. Your child will need to lie still during his MRI. Never enter the MRI room with an oxygen tank, wrist watch, or any other metal objects. This can cause serious injury.

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This information is not designed to replace a physician's independent judgment about the appropriateness or risks of a procedure for a given patient.
Always consult your doctor about your medical conditions or back problem. We Care Health Services does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Use of the site is conditional upon your acceptance of our Terms and Conditions is a member of the medical tourism information network

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