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What is scoliosis?
Scoliosis refers to an abnormal lateral curvature (bending) of the spine and may occur at any time during a child’s development, from fetal stage until after passage to adulthood. The spine may have an “S” or “C” shape, while at the same time it may rotate and result in chest wall deformities, i.e. unleveled shoulders, shoulder blade prominence, rib or loin hump. On many occasions, we may feel that clothes just do not fit us well.
What causes scoliosis?
- 80% of the cases are idiopathic scoliosis of unknown etiology.
- Abnormal bone formation of the spine may result in congenital scoliosis.
- A number of neuromuscular conditions, such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, the Marfan or Ritter syndromes, etc, may afflict neural and muscular function and cause neuromuscular scoliosis.
Indicatively, the Scoliosis & Spinal Department at IASO Children’s Hospital provides established diagnosis and specialized treatment in children suffering from:
- Back pain
- Spinal disc herniation
- Occipitocervical instability
All the above conditions are performed via several procedures, such as:
- Spinal injections to manage back pain and/or sciatica-One Day Clinic
- Decompression/Discectomy in cases of disc herniation or lumbar stenosis-overnight hospital stay
- Occipitocervical stabilization in cases of instability or stenosis
- Removal of hemivertebra and performance of selective spinal fusion for growth modulation and congenital scoliosis prevention
- Percutaneous pars fracture repair to prevent spondylolisthesis-overnight hospital stay
- Growth Rod Systems to control early-onset scoliosis
- MAGEC rods implantation in cases of early-onset scoliosis and lengthening in the Outpatient Department
- Anterior or/and posterior spinal fusion for the final treatment of scoliosis/kyphosis.
How is scoliosis managed?
The objective in scoliosis management is to prevent the spinal curvature from deteriorating. Management depends on child’s age, severity, spinal curvature type, and underlying diagnosis. Basically, there are three types of treatments available for scoliosis:
- Use of brace
MAGEC rods constitute the latest advance in early-onset scoliosis. With the performance of two minor incisions on the upper and lower part of the spine, we place a magnetic rod which helps us maintain the current scoliosis grade under control, while at the same time we can lengthen it in order to follow a child’s spine development. The lengthening is conducted at the Outpatient Department, and is painlessly performed within seconds, using a magnet-guide on the skin.
The surgeons of the Departmenthave gained high specialization and extensive experience in large centers abroad, such as the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London which treats the largest series of patients with MAGEC rods worldwide.
Scoliosis: Myths and Truths
- Just because your child suffers from scoliosis does not mean that he/she cannot do sports or attend physical education classes at school. On the contrary, children affected by scoliosis should engage in sports activities, as it helps them maintain their spinal muscles in a good condition.
- A woman suffering from scoliosis can have children normally, and even give birth naturally (vaginal delivery). Scoliosis does not affect conception and commonly does not cause any problems during pregnancy or delivery.
- To date, surgery is the only treatment method in correcting spinal curvatures. Physiotherapy and physical exercise can improve painful symptoms and body posture.
- It is highly uncommon for spinal instrumentation to activate metal detectors.
- Scoliosis cannot be prevented, and it has been demonstrated not to associate with carrying the school bag or any action or omission of the child or parent.
- You should never blame yourself for not seeing the curvature on your child’s spine earlier. Scoliosis can rapidly deteriorate within a few months, and especially during adolescence.
- There is a common belief that following a scoliosis surgery one cannot exercise. This is not true. Almost all patients, within a reasonable period of time, resume their sports activities, such as football, basketball, horseback riding, or even skydiving!
- “If my child is operated, he/she will become paralyzed”- a common parental fear that is nothing but a lie of the past. With modern surgical techniques and continuous intraoperative monitoring of the neural function (neuromonitoring) performed at the Scoliosis and Spinal Department, the risk of paralysis is less than 0.25%.