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The Case Against Scoliosis Surgery

Research into adult scoliosis surgery: “Frequency of pain was not reduced… pulmonary function did not change… 40% had minor complications, 20% had major complications, and… there was 1 death.”

If you or a loved one is weighing the treatment options for scoliosis, you should know all the facts. You should know why we at Esprit Wellness do not support scoliosis surgery and why we advocate non-surgical alternatives such as our 3-step CLEAR scoliosis treatment and SpineCor Braces.

The Facts About Child, Teen and Adult Scoliosis Surgery:

  • Every year, about 20,000 rod implant (spinal fusion) surgeries are done in the US.
  • Every year, about 8,000 people who had the surgery when younger are deemed permanently disabled.
  • After surgery, patients have an average 25% reduction in their range of motion.
  • Follow up x-rays show the scoliosis returns to pre-op levels about 22 years after the rod implant.
  • The metal rods often bend, come loose from the wires, or break completely requiring another surgery to remove them.
  • Two of every three rods show signs of corrosion.
  • Many parents agree to treat scoliosis in teens with surgery because they think it’s the only treatment available.

Scoliosis in Teens: Findings

Studies have shown the debilitating side effects of scoliosis surgery can actually be worse than the disease itself, especially for adolescents. Following are conclusions from studies that looked into the effectiveness of surgery to treat scoliosis in teens.

“Forty percent of operated treated patients with idiopathic scoliosis were legally defined as severely handicapped persons 16.7 years after the surgery." Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Stuart Weinstein, MD, University of Iowa, 2003.

"[Complications] include the syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone, pancreatitis, superior mesenteric artery syndrome, ileus, pneumothorax, hemothorax, chylothorax and fat embolism.” Curr Opin Pediatr Journal, 2001.

“[Surgery] reduced pulmonary function, increased pain and impaired quality of life, all of which worsen during adulthood, even when the curvature remains stable... Successful surgery still does not eliminate spinal curvature and it introduces irreversible complications whose long-term impact is poorly understood. For most patients there is little or no improvement in pulmonary function.... The rib deformity is eliminated only by rib resection which can dramatically reduce respiratory function even in healthy adolescents. Outcome for pulmonary function and deformity is worse in patients treated surgically before the age of 10 years, despite earlier intervention.” Journal of Pediatric Rehabilitation 2006 Oct-Dec;9(4)

Scoliosis in Adults: Findings

Over the years, many studies have looked into how rod implant surgery worked out for scoliosis in adults.

"Frequency of pain was not reduced… pulmonary function did not change… 40% had minor complications, 20% had major complications, and… there was 1 death [out of 45 patients]. In view of the high rate of complications, the limited gains to be derived from spinal fusion should be assessed and clearly explained to the patient." J Bone Joint Surg AM 1987 Jun;69(5)

"Corrosion was seen on many of the rod junctions (66.2%) after long-term implantation." Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Chiba University, Japan. J Orthop Sci. 2005;10(2)

"Initial average loss of spinal correction post-surgery is 3.2 degrees in the first year and 6.5 after two years with continued loss of 1.0 degrees per year throughout life." [So, if a 50 degree Cobb angle is corrected by surgery to 25 degrees, it will return to its pre-operative condition of 50 degrees after roughly twenty years.] Radiologic findings and curve progression 22 years after treatment for AIS Spine 2001 Mar 1;26(5)


"49% of surgically-treated patients admitted limitation of social activities due to their back." European Spine Journal 2001; Aug; 10(4)

There are Better Options for Scoliosis Treatment

Given the scientific findings on both teen and adult scoliosis surgery, Esprit Wellness can provide you with safer, more effective treatments that will get you moving sooner and keep you moving for life.

Contact us for a consultation. We’ll come up with a personalized treatment plan that works for you.

Broken Harrington Rod from Scoliosis Surgery
X-ray showing Broken Harrington Rod from Failed Scoliosis Surgery

Scoliosis Surgery

 

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Dr. Sid is the only doctor in metropolitan New York and the north east region who offers integral ScoliSMART scoliosis care.

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