View Full Version : Had Surgery In 1976

06-15-2004, 08:29 PM
I had Scoliosis surgery in July, 1976. My surgery was performed by Dr. John Moe at Fairview Hospital in St. Paul, MN. At the time of my surgery I was 16, I am now 44. I will be happy to answer any questions I can about my experiences or long term results.

06-16-2004, 01:05 AM
How bad were your curves? What correction did you get? Where were your curves? Has it changed at all over time? I mean regressed or straightened more. My brother in law had scoliosis sugery in the 70's, I don't know how long he was in hospital for but I know his parents had to get a 'flip' bed for home. to turn him. He had to spend time upside down. Why I don't know. My husband died 10 years ago and we have lost touch with that part of the family or I could ask him. He was in a cast for at least 6 months.

06-16-2004, 09:43 AM
My daughter is probably going to need surgery and i was wondering if you could tell me info on long term effects. Have you had any pain since surgery and problems doing any activities, etc. Thanks

06-16-2004, 01:29 PM
My curvature was 67 degrees and was corrected to 23. I would have to look and see what the other curves were but at that time the middle curve was most important. I was, from what I'm told, the first to have a Harrington Rod and double dorsal traction (two smaller rods going horizontal) to keep from having to fuse higher up. I was in the hospital for 10 days and had a plaster cast for about 5 months (not the same one the whole time).

When I came home I slept in my regular bed on the second floor of our home. No special equipment needed. Couldn't shower for 5 months due to the cast (yes, it would start to stink). I was very active as soon as I came home. Dr. Moe said that my fast healling was a result of activity. I was riding my bike, and played golf about 6 or 7 weeks after surgery, and within a year I was playing little league baseball again. I remember the importance that Dr. Moe put on activity. I walked and walked from day 4 after surgery and slowly began to run. The more I did the better I felt.

I have for the past 20 years worked weeknights and weekends on our family ranch in Texas. I have hauled and stacked 100's of thousands of bails of hay, carried thousands of feed sacks, delivered calves and anything else you can think of. I own a steel fabrication company which requires far more lifting, bending, kneeling, etc. than I like to think about. I have no pain now and can't remember any since shortly after surgery.

I don't believe anything has changed with my curvature over the years. I haven't had anything checked since 1 year after surgery, so as far as I know everything is just fine. It is very, very rare that I think about the surgery or having scoliosis.

My niece has a mild case and I talked to her about it and that is what prompted me to see if I could help ease the minds of kids and parents. I know that every case is different and each individual is effected by life challenges differently. This is major surgery, and yes it makes us nervous. The reality is that you confront much greater risk every day by getting in your car. Remind yourself of the future positive life changes that will be brought about by this surgery. It is a gift.

I hope this helps. Please ask as many questions as you wish. I will respond as fast a possible.


06-16-2004, 08:11 PM
I find your story inspiring, but a bit misleading. I think you were able to be more active because you had a cast, so there was little risk of upsetting the fusion. Most spinal fusion patients today need to be much more careful about their activity post-op because they will not have a cast/brace to hold they torso in place, and could seriously damage the fusion by being too active.

06-16-2004, 09:05 PM
I'm sorry if you felt my reply misleading. It is what happened to me, that is why I stated that I was doing what my doctor approved for me and the importance he placed on activity for me. As I metioned, I know that no matter how alike each case can be, all are different. No patient should atempt an activity that is not approved by your doctor.

06-16-2004, 10:29 PM
I have mentioned that my surgeon was Dr. John H. Moe. I was scheduled for surgery on a Thursday at the end of June, 1976 at a major university hospital. On Monday of that week an MD co-worker of my father recommended that we see Dr. Moe. My father made an appointment for Wednesday morning that same week and after a one hour visit with Dr. Moe my dad cancelled the Thursday surgery. The trip to St. Paul, MN was a blessing. Dr. Moe operated on me in July, 1976. Dr. Moe was the pioneer of scoliosis research and considered the founder of modern scoliosis treatment. In the 1940's Dr. moe created "the first dedicated inpatient hospital spine unit in the world". Dr. Moe has passed away but his legacy continues. A useful resource for physician search is the Scoliosis Research Society www.srs.org and the use of the Physician Locator tab. Also a internet search for John H Moe Fellowship Award will give physician results.

I hope this helps

06-17-2004, 03:42 AM

Thanks so much for your positive reflections on surgery. It really helps. I know several of us need to have surgery, but for various reasons are putting it off. It's so good to hear about positive outcomes.

06-17-2004, 07:28 PM
Looking back it was good that I had the surgery at 16 and had my parents making the decisions. As an adult I'm sure I too would find reasons to put it off. But even at 15 knowing that surgery was coming and knowing what the long term problems would be without surgery, I realized that I had to have it. I accepted the fact, did't really like it, that this surgery was the right thing.

In 1976 their wasn't really any source of information about scoliosis like today. We lived in a small town with a small library so my only source of info was my parents and, if I had the guts to ask, the doctor. I had all along been seeing a ortho in this small town (every 4 to 6 months for about 8 years) and at times I felt that all he knew about scoliosis was how to draw the lines on the x-ray, figure the angle, tell you it was worse and I'll see you in 4 months. He did try something new, he put me in a Milwaukee brace for about 3 years and my curve continued to get worse. When I turned 16 this ortho refered us to a university hospital and after two quick visits surgery was scheduled. I was not comfortable with that doctor or his plan. One surgery to put in a Harrington rod and 9 months later another to take it out. That didn't go along with even the small amount of info we had. My parents began to check around and as I stated in a previous reply, at the last minute (Idon't believe my parents were going to let the first doctor do the surgery anyway) we ended up with Dr. Moe. With Dr. Moe I knew right away that I was in good hands. During that time period Dr. Moe and his staff were doing 40 to 60 scoliosis operations per month. Dr. Moe had to be in his late 60's early 70's when he did my surgery. I looked at him and trusted him like he was my grandfather.

Now, looking back 28 years later, and untill this week I didn't spend much time doing so, I realize the importance every little event, both good and bad, had on my overall outlook on having scoliosis, wearing a brace and having surgery. Those are life lessons that few others will ever learn. I not only gained physical correction but emotional and mental strength as well.