View Full Version : Surgery or Travel?

03-24-2009, 11:14 AM
Hi everyone, I recently posted a thread similar to this but some circumstances have changed since I saw a surgeon last week. I am looking for some guidance from people who have had this surgery or people who know more than I do in this area. :)
First off, I am a 19 year old sophomore in college. I have had scoliosis for pretty much all of my life, and I have tried everything from bracing to yoga to chiropractic care. While these methods have helped, they have not eliminated my scoliosis. I recently visited a surgeon (the same one who suggested surgery when I was younger) to talk about possible surgery options in the future. My curve is currently at 68 degrees...the thoracic curve. My other curves are pretty much non-existent. The surgeon said he would fuse from T2 to T5 and put rods in, of course. This doesn't seem like a lot to me after reading some of the other posts. Anyway, he would only fuse the middle section of the back. Does that sound normal? I'm worried that my other small curve on the lumbar will look more pronounced if the middle is smaller...does that make sense?
Another important thing: I'm going to China for a study abroad program and will be back in June. If I have the surgery in mid-June or even July, the surgeon said I would be able to go back to college in late August with no problem, since the recovery time would be a month. That also seemed really hard to believe! He said he could get about 60% correction making my curve around 27 degrees. That's very exciting, but he also said that he could not eliminate my rib hump completely, and he doesn't do the thoracoplasty (sp?) procedure because of limited pulmonary function post surgery. My rib hump is semi-significant but I don't mind it much as it is, and I'm sure that any correction would be fine with me.
My curve hasn't progressed at all since 2005, so although surgery is highly recommended at some point in the future, he said it is not absolutely necessary that I get it done this summer. Basically, I'm torn. I was accepted to a summer program to study in Italy from June to August but after visiting with this surgeon, I'm contemplating just having the surgery this summer instead. To put it short, I would just like to get it over with, especially now when I'm young.
I'm just looking for any advice from people who have had the surgery, what you think about the surgeon's predictions, etc. Anything would be greatly appreciated since I have to make a decision semi-soon!

03-24-2009, 12:01 PM
My only comment is have you gotten another opinion? Fusing just four levels on a curve as severe as yours seems odd.

03-28-2009, 09:22 AM
I agree with Chris although it's just a guess. I'm going to be fused four levels (T12-L3) and I have a 46 degree curve so it seems logical to me that your fusion would be longer. You should get a second-opinion regardless since it is pretty major surgery. Good luck with whatever you decide :)

03-28-2009, 06:44 PM
I had my surgery at 20 and i'm now 24. I do agree that it sounds like a small fusion and just from experiance, I would have to say that a month is not enough time to recover. I'm sure you have been given a general breakdown of the surgery, but what you may not realize is that you have had 19 years to learn/adjust to walking, sitting, living crooked. Now, this procedure will not only cut muscles and move bones, but you hafta re-learn and readjust to doing everything straight. My fusion was T4 -L4 and i did have the "S" curve and i was in the hospital for 11 days and out of work for 3 months.
I'm not trying to talk you out of the procedure, believe me, it was probably the the healthiest thing i've ever done for myself, i just don't want you to have unrealistic expectations. :) I wish you the best in making your decision!

03-29-2009, 01:49 PM
Thanks for the replies! I will most likely get a second opinion but I don't think I want anyone else to do the surgery. The surgeon I plan to stick with is a scoliosis specialist who has a lot of credentials...however,I think he could have a better bedside manner. This might be the wrong reason for "sticking" with a surgeon but I have heard only good things about him and he is known for being the best scoliosis surgeon in my area.
As for the short fusion, I was surprised by that as well! He said he didn't even want to touch the bottom curve..it's not pronounced at all and I think it might be in the 20s or low 30s. I guess the two curves would (expectedly) balance themselves out post surgery since the fusion would lower my main curve to the high 20s? He said I would be absolutely fine by the time late August comes around. He said I would need only a month to re-cooperate. I remember laughing at him when he said that because I was expecting at LEAST three months. But he kept assuring me that because of my age and fusion size I would be fine. Even my family doctor said I would be good as new in no time. Interesting. Obviously everyone is different...I just hope there aren't any complications.
Anyway, I decided to have the surgery this summer and postpone my trip. Obviously I'm going to ask the surgeon more questions before the next step (pre-op/planning surgery).