A New Surgery Technique for Treating Scoliosis in Toledo

More than 100,000 children in the United States are diagnosed with scoliosis each year. Scoliosis is a rotational curve in the spine commonly seen in children and adolescents. There are several different types of scoliosis, but the most common type has no known cause. It can be a painful condition that can lead to additional health problems.

About a year ago, the FDA approved a new surgical technique that involves a non-fusion spinal device. Unlike the most common surgical technique — spinal fusion — clinical data suggests this non-fusion technique has enhanced benefits for the patient. These benefits typically include a shorter hospital stay, decreased narcotic use, and an ability to retain spine mobility. Data also suggests patients had decreased blood loss and decreased operating time, as compared to other procedures. The innovative implant is a great asset to our community and ProMedica Russell J. Ebeid Children’s Hospital is the first in the region to use this new technique for treating pediatric patients with scoliosis.

Patients who are candidates for this type of surgery have failed bracing and/or may be intolerant to brace wear. The non-fusion spinal device that is used is made up of anchors, bone screws, cord, and set screws. The anchors, bone screws, and set screws are made out of titanium alloys that are commonly used as spine implants. The cord is made of a strong flexible polymer.

During the procedure, an anchor and bone screw are placed into the patient’s spine on the side of the spinal curvature, then the cord is secured to the bone screws using set screws. During surgery, the surgeon will apply tension to the cord to partially straighten the patient’s spine. After surgery, the cord continues to straighten the spine while the patient continues to grow.

This surgical technique substantially improves recovery and long term outcomes for children who are candidates over standard techniques, procedures and other surgeries. Ideally, patients retain more mobility in their spine which allows for participation in a wide variety of sports, activities and everyday movements.

Aaron Buerk, MD, is a ProMedica surgeon who performs pediatric orthopaedic surgery. Pediatric orthopaedic surgeons diagnose and treat children who have problems in their bones, muscles, and joints that inhibit movement or cause pain.