View Full Version : Surgery postponed until....?

03-23-2009, 08:46 PM
So my ortho wants to take a wait and see approach in terms of my scoliosis. I have a 43T/34L curve with significant rotation that is progressing at 1-2 degrees per year. I WANT this surgery, I want to get it done while I am young (just turned 29). But I live in Boston and surgeons here are very conservative. I feel like I have no control over my body and it has violated me and been violated for my entire life. It is my body and I feel I should have a say in my treatment. The surgeon said that if I wanted surgery someone would definitely perform it but he wants to wait and see for now. I am in constant pain and I hate the way I look. I am an intelligent woman in a PhD program and clearly mentally competent to have a say in how my back is treated. I just feel so....violated....like what I say and what I want doesn't matter. I'm so upset about this, I don't know what to do. I could understand the surgeon's position if I had a 25 degree curve that was not progressing but mine is nearing 45 degrees and has continued to progress throughout adulthood!

03-23-2009, 09:10 PM
Hey, you make some good points.

I don't see any ethical problems with fusing you as you are nearly in territory where your curve is expected to increase over your life time. I was told by our surgeon this line is at 50* but from the testimonials on here, I think a significant fraction of curves less than 50* RELIABLY progress into surgery territory and can be expected to increase over time.

Based on some comments our surgeon made, the earlier you get this done the better as it seems like more damage is done from simply having scoliosis over a longer period of time. That is, the reason adults have a rougher time is because it's never (or hardly ever) just a curve at that point but there is other damage. If true, this has ramifications for non-fusion techniques used on kids, BTW.

Kids get fused and it's a relative breeze because it's usually just a curve. My kid was back in school full time and COMFORTABLY at less than 4 weeks. My other kid may make it out of adolescence at a sub-surgical Cobb angle but I think she has a high chance of facing surgery down the road. Her curve is 36* - 40* now. I think there are any number of adults on this board who needed surgery after emerging from adolescence with that high a curve or less even.

I think you should press them for data (or find it on your own) for the likelihood that you will continue progressing.

Last, it is possible you have some other condition causing pain and that fusing your scoliosis will not solve that. People have higher angles with no pain for example. You should consider that having a fusion may or may not solve the pain issue.

Good luck.

03-23-2009, 09:43 PM
I added some more pictures to my site but cannot figure out how to update my signature. Anyway these show my most current XRAYS along iwth pics of my back.


03-23-2009, 09:47 PM
Pooka-Thanks so much for your insight. I am willing to wait and see how this progresses but I don't want to wait until my curve is at 60 degrees before having surgery. I know surgery will not reduce all of the pain but I met with the ortho and he agreed that a lot of the pain is from the degenerative discs as well as pinched nerves down my back (from the scoli). I am a PhD student and an Instructor at a Unviersity and it is all I can do to make it through a 75 minute lecture period...my back is on fire! They gave me muscle relaxers and vicodin but it makes me dopey and I cannot teach while I am whacked out on pain killers! I plan to see this ortho as well as another ortho (Dr. Saechin Kim at MAss General) soon. I saw Dr. Kim before and he told me to come see him in a year so I will be making an ppt with him soon.

Thanks for the insight!
28 years old. Dx at age 14.

1994 20T/20L
1998 22T/20L
2002 30T/28L
2006 34T/28L
2008 43T/34L

This is the website with the most updated pics

03-24-2009, 01:28 AM
Boston certainly has some great doc's up there. That's where I was treated with the Boston Brace by Dr. Hall when I was a kid. However, if you are in pain I would try and find someone else to take a look at things. As you said why wait for things to get worse. Do it while you are young and they can get a better correction. I wish I had known 5 years ago how much I was progressing. I would have taken care of things much sooner. But I had to go and have another baby that I couldn't live without:D and well here I am waiting for surgery April 15 with ton of pain. You know your body and how it feels better than anybody. If you are unsatisfied with your care so far keep on looking for the answers you need. Good luck and take care.