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Old 8th May 2014, 11:49 AM
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Join Date: Jan 1970
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Default Re: Tell me a little bit about Post-op for Scoliosis?

With surgery, things are generally very tough in the immediate post-op period but most people recover well and once they are fully fused they can get in with their lives with minimal pain and disruption. It's great news that you are having a thoracic-only fusion, as we actually have little movement in our thoracic spines anyway so you probably won't notice any limitation in your ability to move.


1. How bad is the pain?
Immediately after surgery it can be very bad. Fortunately pain relief is usually very effective. I had my first surgeries aged 10 (thoracic only fusion) and can only remember discomfort and stiffness, not pain, from that time. I had more surgery at 18 (lumbar fusion, new rod, costoplasty) and the pain was severe then. I then had a second costoplasty at 25 and the pain was bad then too, but it got better very quickly.

2. Do you feel the rod?
I can feel the top of my main rod if I run my hand over the base of my neck, but that is a Harrington which is different to the modern rods that they use today. I'm not aware of any of my hardware inside me.

3. Can you move?
How much you can move depends on the length of your fusion. I had my entire thoracic spine fused aged ten, and once I was healed I was expected to do - and did - all sports and activities that other kids at my school did. This includes gym class, long jump, high jump, netball, hockey (was on the school team), cross country running etc etc. You won't be able to bend or twist the fused part of your spine, but as I mentioned before we have little movement in our thoracic spines anyway. I was not able to do shoulder-stands or forwards rolls in gym class, but that's about it.

Straight after surgery you will feel very stiff, like you have a board strapped to your back. This is normal and you will recover!

4. Does the hump on your back go away?

Modern surgical techniques derotate the vertebrae, and as your spine is untwisted the ribs are pulled back into place, lessening the rib hump. If you have a large curve or if you have had scoliosis for a long time the ribs may have grown deformed themselves, so fusion surgery alone may not give as much cosmetic correction as you'd hope for. In cases like this your surgeon may opt to do a costoplasty, which is a procedure on the ribcage to flatten the profile of the residual hump. Most people are very pleased with the cosmetic results they get from surgery, but you must be aware that it is not possible to achieve a perfectly straight flat back.

5. Do you grow taller...i'm 6'0 so i'm wondering how tall i could grow with 47 degrees thoracic scoliosis.

Most people grow taller, yes! Any curve that is straightened will result in some gain in height. Every case is different, but patients quite often gain an inch or two.

You should also be aware that your spine will "settle" a bit following the surgery so your initial height gain will decrease slightly.

6. How long would it take before i drive?

I'm not sure, I don't drive.
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37 years old, diagnosed with infantile idiopathic scoliosis at 6 months old with curves of 62(T) and 40(L) degrees. Casting and Milwaukee braces until surgery at 10 - ant release/pos fusion T1-T12, halo traction. Post op cast and then TLSO. Further surgery at 18 (ant release/pos fusion extended to L3 to include lumbar curve, costoplasty) and 25 (another costoplasty). Fusion extended to L4 at 33 (XLIF with 4 pedicle screws and two short rods). Pre-op curves: 76(T) and 70(L). Post-op curves: 45(T) and 35(L). Diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome aged 34; scoliosis almost certainly due to this rather than being idiopathic.
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