View Full Version : First Time here & surgery likely

11-21-2003, 12:28 AM
My name is Angel and I am 35 yrs old. I was diagnosed with scoliosis when I was in 8th grade and braced until I graduated from High School. My curvature was then 32 degrees and continued to increase gradually at about 1 degree every 5-6 years.

I have suddenly developed pain in my midback this past spring and it hurts when I breathe deeply. My xrays today showed a curvature of 56 degrees. When I was there in April my curvature was 50 degrees and they have always been let's wait and see if it progresses. Now all of the sudden it progresses more aggresively than it ever has in 7 months! I also have syringomyelia which is a cyst-like cavity inside my spinal cord which really complicates things.

I will now be going to another dr to see about surgery. The dr I say today said I could wait another 6 months to a year to see if my curvature progresses. The drs keep telling me it shouldn't progress after I stop growing but it has progresses from 32 degrees so obviously I'm not in the norm. I REALLY dread surgery as I have 4 children, 3 of them being triplets that are 4 yrs old. But what are some of the reasons why it would all the sudden progress more quickly, and are there added risks if I wait for surgery?

Any advice you have would be helpful. Thank you so much!


11-21-2003, 03:21 PM
I have read that doctors used to believe curves would not progress after growth stopped. However, now that is known to be a myth. (unfortunately for us) I hear that 1-3 degrees a year is common. However, I do not know why yours would progress more rapidly all of a sudden. I am 35, wore a brace for years, which kept the curvature degrees down, and was told everything was fine. Now, all of a sudden, I find myself with 65 degree thoracic and 58 degree lumbar degrees and facing surgery. Too bad it's not malpractice, since they didn't know any better back when we were teens. One expert told me I could wait for years with no problem before having surgery; however, I have good health insurance currently and disability leave (I won't after I change jobs next year), so I think I will have the spinal fusion probably next April.

11-22-2003, 06:04 PM
Hi Angel...

I could have sworn I typed a long reply to you yesterday, but it doesn't appear to have gotten posted. :-(

Research shows that most curves under 40 degrees at skeletal maturity never increase and most curves over 50 degrees at skeletal maturity will increase. A rapid increase in an adult is unusual, and can often mean that there are other problems. (Perhaps your syringomyelia plays a part.) In my opinion, you definitely need to wait and watch for a little while. There can be a lot of difference between curve measurements if x-rays are taken at different parts of the day. Also, a 5 degree margin of error is very common.

If it turns out that you definitely are going to have to have surgery, then sooner will probably be a lot easier than later. They're doing scoliosis surgery on people into their 80's, but the complication rate definitely increases as the patient ages. I can tell you from experience that there will definitely never be a great time to have surgery. As I'm sure you've already found out, there are many considerations. My recommendation would be to not rush into surgery, and definitely get a second opinion.

Good luck!