View Full Version : Reduced lung capacity and pneumonia diagnosis

11-10-2009, 03:38 PM
When I had my surgery nearly 20 years ago for scoliosis, the thoracic curve was at about 65 degrees and tests showed I had lost lung capacity (which I was told back then, I would never fully recover).

Fast forward to now. I developed a flu (probably H1N1) last Friday, but with the fever not going away after several days, tried to make an appointment with my family doctor, who is actually the person who diagnosed my scoliosis and who has been my doctor ever since. Unfortunately, my doctor was sick. I went to a flu assessment clinic instead. There, I was told air flow was not as good through one of my lungs. I asked the nurse if maybe it was from the scoliosis and she did a more thorough assessment. She was still pretty sure it was pneumonia and prescribed me antibiotics. The fever not going away was what convinced her (and me for the most part) that it was pneumonia.

I am wondering if anyone knows if reduced lung capacity due to scoliosis would come out in a regular examination (i.e. when there's no pneumonia present)? My thinking is, my doctor knows me and my background, and if there is reduced airflow, she's probably familiar with it, but others might not. I don't have shortness or breath or chest pain that are often associated with pneumonia. Don't get me wrong - I am glad to have the antibiotics - the fever not going away was definitely a sign something was wrong - but am wondering if maybe I have bronchitis or something else.

Karen Ocker
11-10-2009, 07:51 PM
Nobody can diagnose your problem over the internet. A pulmonary doctor is most qualified to assess your lung capacity once your illness is past. Curves of 60 deg and higher can reduce pulmonary function.

11-11-2009, 07:52 AM
Hi Karen,

Totally understand where you're coming from, but I'm not actually asking anyone to diagnose me - I've been to a clinic (have started antibiotics, etc.) and it's just the results I'm asking about, trying to see if anyone has had a similar experience. The nurse I saw yesterday would not have been as familiar with my scolioisis as my main family doctor and I'm wondering if it would affect her interpretation of what she heard when she listened to my chest.

I do understand that 60 degree + curves affect pulmonary function, but am wondering if others have found those affects linger after the curve has been fixed? I will go and get more information on this from my doctor when both of us are well again, but am curious if others have information from personal experience. Thanks in advance for any help with this.

11-11-2009, 10:53 PM
My son's curve at the time of his surgery was 80+ degrees with significant rotation. He was never formally told he has reduced lung capacity but I know he does, just looking at him, as his rib cage appears quite a bit smaller on one side or as i describe it more crushed in and this is 2 1/2 years after his surgery.
Now like you he developed a severe cough a couple of weeks ago with no fever for the first week. The fever came a week later and he was then diagnosed with pnemonia. He also had no chest pain or shortness of breath. Dad went with him to the appointment and so not many questions were asked but my first thought was does his reduced lung capacity make him more prone to pnemonia. It's a scary thought that he may be more suseptable to lung problems because of the scoliosis and it is something that I will ask his surgeon about next time we see him.
would be interesting to see if others have had similar experiences.

Hope you're feeling better soon


11-12-2009, 03:14 AM
I do remember that when I first came out of the brace as a teenager, and my curves were both about 30 degrees, they did a lung capacity test on me. At that time I was told that I had 90% of normal lung capacity. As I aged and unknowingly progressed with my curves up to over 60 degrees each, a few times I had very bad spells with athsmatic bronchitis. If my scoliosis had anything to do with it, who knows? Over the years I have been big into aerobic exercise, and in normal every day life, I have never felt winded or that I wasn't getting enough air.

Now that my curves have been reduced so much by surgery (and I'm still doing my aerobics) I wonder if I'll still get the occasional athsmatic bronchitis. I sure hope not!!

Let us know what your regular doctor says, as well as the pulmonary dr.

Good luck,