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htownraider
05-11-2004, 04:47 PM
I am a 45 year old male with a upper curve of 54 deg and a lower curve of 42 deg. I wore a brace as a teenager, but outside of this period, I haven't given my scoliosis much thought. I have been blessed in that I have led a very active life without much pain. To establish a baseline, I recently went to see an orthopedic surgeon. After looking at xRays, the doctor recommended I get the surgery some time in the future.

I am also an avid runner. I have run 3 marathons in the last 18 months, and I was looking forward to completing more in the future.

I don't know much about scoliosis or the surgery. So this leads me to my questions.

Does anyone have any information on good surgeons in the Houston area?

What are important questions that I need to ask of any surgeon?

Does anyone know of someone who has had the surgery and been able to return to an active running program?

On average, how much height does a patient usually gain from the surgery (I'm vertically challenged, so I'm looking for any silver lining)?

Thanks in advance.
Tim

LindaRacine
05-12-2004, 12:31 AM
Hi Tim...

I don't personally know much about this physician, but I know he had good training:

Dr. Darrell Hanson
http://www.texaschildrenshospital.org/FindADoctor/displaybio.asp?person_id=848

You might want to purchase a good book on scoliosis, like "Scoliosis Surgery The Definitive Patient Reference." You can buy it on this web site, or from the author at http://www.curvedspine.com.

You're wise to be researching the problem instead of rushing into surgery. Your curves aren't huge, and it sounds like you probably don't have a lot of pain. Without persistent pain and/or evidence of curve progression, I personally think it would be foolish to consider surgery.

Good luck!

Regards,
Linda

htownraider
05-12-2004, 08:05 AM
Linda,
Thanks for the feedback. I will purchase the book you listed and continue to research the surgery. My doctor said pretty much the same that you posted. Postpone surgery until you have pain or the curve starts to shift significantly.

Have a great day,
Tim

DaveWolpert
05-19-2004, 09:33 AM
Hi Tim,

I've met Dr. Hanson, and he's quite competent. However, you might also want to consider Dr. Kurt von Rueden in Austin, who performed my surgery and is truly a superb surgeon.

In addition, you might want to contact Pamela Stringer, who runs a scoliosis support group in Houston. She could give you more insight into regional surgeons. Her e-mail address is HoustonScoliosis@aol.com.

Oh, and you'll probably gain between 1/3 and 1 inch in height.

Good luck!

Dave

htownraider
05-19-2004, 10:01 AM
David,
Thanks very much for the reply.

Are you the same David Wolpert, author of the Definitive Book on Scoliosis Surgery? If so, I just received your book in the mail yesterday. My wife and I plan to read it soon.

After I become more educated on the surgery, my biggest question will be one of timing. When to have the surgery? Other than a stiff neck and some numbness down my left side, I am in no pain. I am able to stay very active physically. So when do I have surgery?

My current physician, Dr. Cubbage here in Houston, told me that my curves will likely continue to get worse. At some point, this will likely lead to nerve damage. Does this make sense?

I appreciate all of the helpful information.
Thanks,
Tim

P.S. I was hoping for a bit more height addition than you mentioned. But that is secondary.

DaveWolpert
05-19-2004, 04:04 PM
Yes, I'm the author. Thanks for buying my book!

Regarding setting a date for surgery, you might want to jump to page 81. Scoliosis surgery is never urgent, especially if you're not in significant pain right now. However, recovering from surgery is a lot easier when you're younger rather than older, with fewer complications and a better level of correction, too.

Your physician is probably right that your curves will worsen over time, but they are still in the moderate range so you've got time. The more important thing to do is to establish that your curves are indeed progressing. If they're not, the decision to have surgery is almost a toss-up given that you're not experiencing pain.

The chance of you getting nerve damage isn't great, unless you already have some nerve compression related to the scoliosis (sounds like you might, given your numbness). The bigger risks are increasing levels of back pain and, if your thoracic curve progresses to at least 80 degrees, your lungs and heart may get compressed.

Hope this helps!
Dave