View Full Version : Some questions...

11-17-2008, 08:50 PM
Hi all,

I have been reading the forums for a while and have some questions (really glad I found this place, seems to have heaps of good info).

I'm 23 years old and have been diagnosed with a 46 degree curve. I have visited two orthopedic surgeons and both recommended that I have surgery. I'm from Melbourne, Australia and from these consultations Dr Turner in Richmond seems to be my preferred choice. Does anyone know about him or have had experience with him? If not, does anyone have experience with other really good surgeons in Melbourne?

Both surgeons said that with my angle, it is very likely (90%+ chance apparently) that it will worsen and by the time I'm 50ish, it'll be very serious. Now being female, if I'm going to have the surgery, I'm thinking I might as well have it now, so that I can enjoy the benefits while I'm still young. It might sound vain, but the possible improvements to my appearance is the main motivating factor for me. I find it really annoying that I can't wear what I like and have to constantly work around the scoliosis. It would be a huge relief to me to not have to do this. When thinking about surgery, the thing that most excites me is finally being able to buy some fitted tops, some skirts and a swimsuit. Haven't done any of these things for a very long time. I experience mild pain, but this is very occasionally, and more often it is just stiffness around my hips/lower back.

Is it realistic to hope that my hips will straighten after surgery?

Secondly, Dr Turner said that I would have to wear a brace after the surgery for three months but the other surgeon didn't say this. Why is this the case?

Lastly, I am currently in grad school. I was thinking of doing a part-time load (one subject instead of three) while I'm recovering from the surgery to keep myself busy. Would this be advisable?

Sorry for the long post. Thanks in advance :)

11-18-2008, 02:28 AM
Hello from across the tasman! I can't answer all of your questions, but some of them I can.
I understand your concerns about progression, the jury is still out on whether or not curves will progress, it's hard to know if yours would without seeing progression occuring over time. Having said that, the cosmetic benefits of looking normal, and being able to buy a fitted shirt etc, are great. The correction people get varies, with your curve being smaller it may be easier to get a good correction. Even if they corrected to 10-20 degrees you would look considerably different. Surgery is a difficult thing to weigh up, but it sounds like you are leaning towards it.

I had surgery in graduate school (mine being a revision this time) and I found that having a reduced workload was helpful. The recovery time varys, but even when you are physically feeling ok I found my motivation and concentration took a long time to come back. It is easier to reduce your workload for the first semester back, and then increase it later. Having less pressure and more time to focus on rehabilitation is very helpful.

There are others on here from Australia, do a search on the forum and you might find some of the other users. Best wishes!

11-18-2008, 02:47 AM
Hi Cimbom,

I am one of those Aussies, (from the Sunshine Coast, Queensland) but am still learning about Scoliosis, having ignored mine when I was your age, and am now, at age 57, with a curve of 66+ degrees, awaiting surgery. So I am not able to help you much other than to say, my curve did not progress until my 50s. Then it progressed rapidly and I lost 6 cm in height.

The only other thing I could offer, is that the younger you have surgery, the easier the recovery and the better the results. Though we've had a few more mature patients here who've coped with recovery remarkably well.

There will be other, more helpful and experienced folk along soon, to answer some of your questions. Good luck!

11-18-2008, 05:41 AM
Awesome, you got offered surgery with a 46 degree curve, If I were you I would do it, but only after doing extensive research into the pros and cons of surgery. I am similar to you with a 40-45 degree lumbar with similar thoracic compensation.
Is your curve thoracic or lumbar, that is an imprortant fact to find out and it will determine what type of surgery you will get. I wish you well in whatever decision you choose. BTW what is your surgeons name? I might drive to melbourne and see him :)


11-18-2008, 09:56 AM

When I was around your age I had the same cosmetic concerns and was so disappointed when I went to see an orthopedic surgeon who told me that nothing could be done for me. How I envied all my friends who could wear two-piece swimsuits. In time I got over it, but my scoliosis did not. It continued to progress and was I surprised when I had X-rays taken for the first time just three years ago and learned that I had a 75 degree curve. Two years later it was measured at 80 degrees. By then I had lost 2˝” in height and had a significant deformity. It sounds like you’ve done your homework and have consulted with two specialists who both recommend surgery. Being so young I think you will be amazed at the results you will get. You need to discuss with your surgeon the issue regarding your hips. Surgeons have varying opinions regarding braces. While some require their patients to wear a post-op brace, others do not. I had to wear one for three months following my surgery.

Good luck to you.


11-18-2008, 05:22 PM
Hey there,

I'm another from the Aussie invasion of this place :D

It does sound like you've done a lot of research on your situation - & great job on consulting with 2 specialists. I haven't heard of Dr. Turner (I'm up in QLD), but perhaps someone else around here will have. There is a surgeon in North Melbourne named Dr. Ian Torode - I've never been to him or anything, but he is the only spinal surgeon in VIC who is a member of the international body the Scoliosis Research Society (see here (http://www.srs.org/find/index.php?mode=results&first_name=&last_name=&title=&institution=&address=&city=&state_province=&zip=&country=Australia&specialty=)). Of course, there are many surgeons who aren't a member, who are FANTASTIC surgeons - but if you're still considering another opinion, he might be an option.

It can be difficult for a surgeon to determine whose curves will go on to progress and whose won't, but if 2 have told you they likely will, then I think you'd be right to seriously consider the surgery. Especially in the young (ok, best in the kids & teens, but young adults too), the spine is quite flexible and it's reasonable to expect quite a good correction. Definitely speak with your surgeon/s about what kind of correction you should hope for - but if quite good repair is expected, I think it would be reasonable to hope for more even hips (& shoulders).

The post-op brace is something that some surgeons do & others don't. My understanding of post-op bracing is that it's something of a precaution - rather than simply telling you not to bend, twist, etc. for a few months after surgery (standard restrictions to help you heal), a brace will physically restrict your spinal movement. Think of it as something of a splint on a broken arm - gives it time to heal nicely before you start using it a lot. They're not that comfy, but once you get used to a brace, it doesn't feel bad or restrictive - I'm sure you'd cope with one just fine if needed :)

Re. the study load - decreasing it is definitely a good idea. Long after the post-op pain has eased, people still usually get exhaused very easily - & as NZGirl said, concentration can be compromised for quite a few months post-op. Do you have any idea when your surgery might be compared with when you return to uni? If it's possible for you, I'd really suggest getting the surgery early during the Summer break (& not study over that 3rd semester). That way, you'll have a couple of months to recover before having to get back into the study. I'm actually taking a whole year off from my studies (mostly because there's no mid-year intake or possibility for reduced workload for my program), even though there will be almost 3 months between my surgery and the start of the new semester. BUT - that's only because I'm expecting a longer/harder-than-usual recovery because of other medical issues. I'm sure you'll do great :)

Ok...so you thought you'd written a long post?? I'm the QUEEN of rambling long writings :D But, I hope this answers some of your questions & gives you a bit of food for thought. Feel free to PM me if you ever want :)

Best wishes & take care.

11-19-2008, 05:23 AM
Thanks for your replies and help. Good to hear different perspectives on the issue

I had some stretching x-rays done a few weeks back and will be seeing my surgeon again in January for more info on the precise details of what he plans to be doing.

discombobulated - I did consider seeing Dr Torode but as far as I'm aware he's a pediatric surgeon. Thanks for the suggestion though.

Jimbo - I will PM you the details of my surgeon.

Thanks again! :)