FAQ - Scoliosis

What are the differences between an open and an endoscopic procedure?

A. Both approaches attempt to accomplish the same surgical goals. Pain is more significant with open procedures than with endoscopic surgery. Another difference is the length of the scar.

What will my activity restrictions be after scoliosis surgery?

A. Avoid bending, and stooping as much as possible. Limit lifting for the first 6 months. Walking and swimming are the best things you can do for exercise. After 9 - 12 months, you can do almost anything, including snow skiing if you want to.

Do I need to eat a special diet and drink extra milk to help my spine heal?

A. Eating a well rounded diet will take care of your body’s nutritional needs. A special diet or supplements are not required.

Can I have children if I have scoliosis surgery?

A. Scoliosis surgery will not prevent you from conceiving babies, delivering babies, or raising them once they are born.

Do my rods have to be taken out?

A. No. Only about 5% of the hardware put in ends up being removed. Spinal implants are placed deep to muscle and skin and cannot usually be felt. It rarely causes pain.

How long will I have to take pain medicine?

A. A few to several weeks, depending on your age, health, prior medication requirements, and the type of surgery done.

How much can I do after surgery?

A. Avoid bending, and stooping as much as possible. Limit lifting for the first 6 months. Walking and swimming are the best things you can do for exercise. After 9 - 12 months, you can do almost anything, including snow skiing if you want to.

When can I go back to school?

A. We let patients go back to school as soon as they feel good enough. This may be as soon as 2 to 3 weeks after surgery in some cases.

Do I have to get my stitches taken out?

A. We use self dissolving stitches, so nothing needs to come out.

When can I take a bath?

A. Taking a shower is allowed after a few days from surgery. Taking a bath is not a good idea until at least 4 - 6 weeks for patients who are active and mobile and not fused to the sacrum. For patients with adult scoliosis fused to the sacrum, getting down into a bathtub is too much stress on the spine and should not be done before 3 – 4 months.

I want my rib hump corrected. How is that done?

A. Your rib hump will be significantly better when your curve is corrected. In rare cases when the hump is still prominent, it can be corrected by removing a small section of the involved ribs through the same incision as the scoliosis surgery.

What is a “wake-up” test and when is it performed?

A. After the instrumentation is placed and the curve is corrected, the anesthetic is lightened enough so that the patient can hear and respond, but cannot remember or feel pain. In that dream like state, we ask the patient to move his or her feet to ensure the spinal cord is still functioning. Once the patient moves, we put them back to deep sleep and finish the surgery.

How much experience will the person who is monitoring my spinal cord function have?

A. Our hospital is typical of major spine centers. Our monitoring technicians have several years experience with monitoring spine surgeries and they are all supervised by a neurologist who is also watching the testing as surgery progresses.

Will I need a special type of mattress on my bed?

A. People prefer all different types of mattresses. The mattress you currently have may be as good as any. Before spending any money on a new mattress, try it out by laying on it for 10 – 15 minutes to see how it feels. You will know if you need a new mattress.

What are some types of therapy that I might have to undergo?

A. For adults, a strengthening, endurance, and flexibility program is often helpful. This is followed by instructions regarding a home exercise program.

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