If your scoliosis has advanced to the point where your lung or heart function is affected, your doctor might recommend surgery. The goal of scoliosis surgery is to correct the curve of your spine as much as possible and to stabilize it so the progression of scoliosis stops. Here's an overview of what to expect with scoliosis surgery.
Minimally Invasive Scoliosis Surgery May Be Done
Your doctor considers your individual case, such as the location and severity of the curvature, when deciding on the right type of surgery to do. If possible, a minimally invasive procedure may be chosen. However, this surgery isn't always possible if the curve affects your lower back.
If you're a good match for minimally invasive scoliosis surgery, you'll achieve the same results of open spinal fusion surgery without the need to open up your back and damage muscles and other tissues just so your doctor can visualize and work on your spine.
Minimally Invasive Surgery Uses Small Incisions
The benefit of a minimally invasive procedure is that the surgeon only needs small incisions to work through. It's often possible to avoid cutting through muscle by inserting dilators that open the muscle without harming it so instruments can pass through to your spine.
With smaller incisions and less trauma to muscles and other tissues, your recovery time should be shorter and easier to endure. It's possible for your doctor to perform this surgery through small incisions instead of opening up your back because a tiny camera is passed through one incision that allows the surgeon to see inside your body.
Scoliosis Surgery Decreases Your Spinal Curvature
You'll probably have a general anesthetic and sleep throughout the scoliosis surgery. After making several small incisions in your body, the surgeon passes the camera and operating instruments to your spine. In order to stabilize your spine, it's necessary to use bone grafts. These can be donor grafts or the bone might be taken from your body, such as from a rib or hip.
The bone grafts help your spine maintain its new shape once the grafts have fused with your spine. The surgeon will probably insert rods to hold your spine in position while the grafts heal. It may not be necessary to remove the rods later.
Your surgeon straightens your spine to the degree that it's safe to do so. Your spine may not be completely straight, but the goal is to straighten your spine to correct problems the curvature causes your organs and with causing pain. It's possible you'll be left with a small curve that isn't noticeable to other people.
Healing From Scoliosis Takes Weeks
The rate at which you recover from minimally invasive scoliosis surgery depends on the exact type of procedure you have and how well your body responds during the recovery period. Also, the type of job you have determines when you can go back to work.
Expect your recovery to take weeks. Your activities will gradually increase as you heal, but initially, you may have to limit bending, lifting, and soaking in a tub.
Your doctor monitors your progress and lets you know when you can drive and resume everything you did before the surgery. You may even find you can do more than you did before when your movement isn't limited by a spinal curvature.