Scoliosis is a problem with the curve in the spine. Some curves in the spine are normal. But sometimes a spine makes a large curve from side to side in the shape of the letter "S" or the letter "C." If this curve is severe, it can cause pain and make breathing difficult. Spinal fusion is surgery that helps straighten the curves. It can relieve pain, make breathing easier, and give the spine a more normal appearance.
The doctor makes one or more cuts in the back. These cuts are called incisions. The doctor then attaches metal fasteners to the curved part of the spine. He or she straightens the spine and puts small pieces of bone, called grafts, into the spine. These pieces are usually taken from the child's hip. Over time, the grafts grow together, or fuse, with the spinal bone to put the spine into the proper position. The goal of the operation is not to make the spine perfectly straight, but to give it a more normal appearance and help it support the body better.
Your child will stay in the hospital for several days after surgery. By the time he or she leaves the hospital, your child will be able to dress, feed himself or herself, and walk. In 10 to 14 days your doctor will remove your child's bandage and stitches or staples. If your child has stitches that dissolve in the body over time, the doctor will not need to take them out. Your doctor will tell you if your child needs to go back to have any stitches removed. Your child may go back to school in 3 to 6 weeks.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
Surgery can be stressful both for your child and for you. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your child's surgery.
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Current as of: March 21, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics
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