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Thread: impending surgery

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    North Carolina

    impending surgery

    My 12-year-old daughter, Victoria, will be having surgery in June. She sees the specialist in April and will have x-rays to determine the extent of her fusion. Right now it is planned to do a posterior approach with the fusion of two rods from T3-T12. Her thoracic curve is 55 degrees in the brace and she has a compensatory lumbar curve of about 35 degrees. I would like to hear from other parents as to what questions I need to ask at her next office visit, and also what I can expect before and after surgery. I had the surgery myself in 1975 but I know that things have changed immensely since then. Thanks in advance for your responses.

    Peggy Greene

    Severe Degenerative Disc Disease - cervical and lumbar spine
    Scoliosis - Harrington rod fusion @ age 12 from T3-L3
    11-year old daughter with scoliosis wearing Boston brace due to have surgery June 2004
    Flatback Syndrome
    Restrictive Lung Disease

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Hi Peggy!

    Nice to see you posting here. As you know, I don't have personal experience with adolescent scoliosis surgery. I have met several young people who have recently gone through surgery and done very well.

    When you see the specialist in April, make sure you ask questions about doing a posterior only surgery -vs- anterior and posterior surgery. Victoria has probably not reached her skeletal maturity yet, so you will need to know what the chances (and risks) are if her spine grows after the surgery. Would the anterior (unfused) portion of the spine grow out of proportion to the posterior part? I know some people who had posterior only surgery at 11 or 12, and have done very well. Others have had complications because their spines grew more after the surgery. This is a very individual situation.

    I would also ask a lot of questions about post-op pain control. Find out the plan BEFORE the surgery so you can make sure the nursing staff keeps on top of the schedule. Braydon has back surgery every 6 months. I keep a pocket-sized notebook with me to jot down times and doses of meds so that he doesn't go too long without meds. Braydon has been able to have a PCA pump the last couple of surgeries. That has been GREAT! He is able to push the button every 10 minutes, if needed. This allows him to have continuous pain relief, yet be able to control it, somewhat, himself. Maybe ask about an epidural too. Braydon has had an epidural twice (for different surgeries) and has done very well with them. I would make sure the anesthesiologist is a pediatric doc and has lots of experience placing epidurals before making that final decision.

    For being in the hospital, make sure you take socks that have rubber thingies on the bottom so she doesn't slip when they get her up to walk. Ask about PT for the first time she gets out of bed. PT should have good suggestions for getting into and out of bed, and for the proper balance when standing when she starts moving around. Ask about things specifically. Maybe ask the surgical center, the surgeon sometimes doesn't pay attention to these kinds of detail.

    Braydon has surgery often enough that he has certain "requests". Things like NO TAPE of any kind. The surgeon is able to put a wrap around him, over the steri strips, so his tape discomfort is kept to a minimum. Victoria may have certain "requests" that she can think of - make sure to bring those up before the day of surgery.

    Has she had surgery before? If not, it would be a good idea to go to the hospital the week or so before the surgery and see where she will recover and have her post-op care done. This may help her be a little less stressed about the actual procedure.

    Ask the ortho in April what his "gut feeling" is about her lower curve correcting on its own with doing surgery on the upper curve only. The spine and body are amazing - the compensation the body does when some other part is being manipulated is pretty cool.

    For you, make sure you bring a water bottle or something to keep yourself hydrated - hospitals are very dry. Bring good walking shoes for you. I can't concentrate on much of anything while in the hospital, so books and handwork are just extra things to keep track of (extra things I don't need). For Victoria, if she has something that is a comfort item (I know she's "older" but still) be sure to bring that with her. Put her name on anything and everything you bring from home.

    I think Victoria will do great. If she wants to talk about her surgery and the concerns she has, let her. Have her write down some questions (even if she thinks they are silly or dumb) and ask the doc and/or surgery people. This will help her feel more in control of the procedure and her recovery. If I think of anything else, I'll let you know. Keep us posted on her progress...
    mom to Kara, idiopathic scoliosis, Blake 19, GERD and Braydon 14, VACTERL, GERD, DGE, VEPTR #137, thoracic insufficiency, rib anomalies, congenital scoliosis, missing coccyx, fatty filum/TC, anal stenosis, horseshoe kidney, dbl ureter in left kidney, ureterocele, kidney reflux, neurogenic bladder, bilateral hip dysplasia, right leg/foot dyplasia, tibial torsion, clubfoot with 8 toes, pes cavus, single umblilical artery, etc.

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