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Thread: Surgery for 30 degree curve?

  1. #1
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    Surgery for 30 degree curve?

    Has anyone had surgery for a 30 degree adult curve? Would a surgeon be willing to do surgery at this stage? I'm just very bothered by my appearance and wanting to do it for cosmetic reasons, also I'm afraid it will get worse later on if I do nothing and it would be easier for me to recover from surgery in my 20s than when I'm older.

  2. #2
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    Hi ScoliosisGal,

    I guess I was in a similar boat to you. However, before surgery my curves measured 46 degrees so I barely just qualified for surgery according to most surgeons. The common cut-off is 45 degrees but for some it's 50. Other criteria also comes in to it such as whether you have severe pain, whether your curves have progressed rapidly and whether they're likely to get worse. Although my main motivation was cosmetic, both surgeons I saw recommended I have surgery as they assessed there would be a 90%+ chance of it getting worse. So I decided to have the surgery now, while I'm still young (23), to get a better outcome correction and recovery-wise and also so I can enjoy the cosmetic improvement at my age.

    That said, unless there was some serious mitigating factors, I'd guess that you will not find a reputable surgeon willing to operate on someone with a 30 degree curve. It's a very serious surgery and that's generally the criteria that's applied. However, I know how you feel about the appearance issue and it is something that's tough to deal with. I'd suggest you see an orthopedic spinal specialist just to check on everything. Maybe you'll meet the criteria in the future. I wish you all the best. Try and stay positive
    Diagnosed at the age of 18 (2004)
    46° curve
    Surgery scheduled for April 27, 2009 - Anterior fusion from T12 - L3

  3. #3
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    Maybe Linda would know but I bet it is considered unethical to fuse you for a 30* painless curve.

    That is, I think it might be malpractice for a surgeon to fuse you ONLY for cosmetic reasons. And I doubt you could find a top guy to do it.
    Sharon, mother of identical twin girls with scoliosis

    No island of sanity.

    Question: What do you call alternative medicine that works?
    Answer: Medicine


    "We are all African."

  4. #4
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    Well I have pain as well but its not that bad. I don't see what the big deal is anyways, my curve will most likely get worse if I do nothing which is what most doctors recommend... do nothing until you are bad enough that you need surgery. I haven't even had kids yet... doesn't it get worse during pregnancy? Why wait until then.
    Last edited by ScoliosisGal; 08-11-2009 at 09:28 PM.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScoliosisGal View Post
    Has anyone had surgery for a 30 degree adult curve? Would a surgeon be willing to do surgery at this stage? I'm just very bothered by my appearance and wanting to do it for cosmetic reasons, also I'm afraid it will get worse later on if I do nothing and it would be easier for me to recover from surgery in my 20s than when I'm older.
    I seriously doubt that your insurance company would approve it, so you'd probably have to come up with $100,000-$200,000 to do it.

    --Linda

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScoliosisGal View Post
    Well I have pain as well but its not that bad. I don't see what the big deal is anyways, my curve will most likely get worse if I do nothing which is what most doctors recommend... do nothing until you are bad enough that you need surgery. I haven't even had kids yet... doesn't it get worse during pregnancy? Why wait until then.
    Most of the times, curves that are 30 degrees at skeletal maturity, do not get worse. I met a woman a few weeks ago, whose curve of 34 degrees, has been that way for about 40 years.

    Research from many years ago showed that, on average, curves don't increase any more during pregnancy than they do at other times.

    --Linda

  7. #7
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    Red face i wouldnt do it

    A 30 degree curve is very manageable with conservative measures such as PT, pain management, exercise, etc. I would not go through such a serious, I repeat , very serious surgery that is NOT guaranteed to decrease pain or cause any complications with a curve such as yours. Keep monitoring with xrays every year with an orthopedic surgeon. You may be surprised and not progress!!
    Kristy
    May 2008 Fusion T4 - S1, Pre-op Curves T45, L70 (age 48). Unsuccessful surgery.

    March 18, 2010 (age 50). Revision with L3 Osteotomy, Replacement of hardware T11 - S1 , addition of bilateral pelvic fixation. Correction of sagittal imbalance and kyphosis.

    January 24, 2012 (age 52) Revision to repair pseudoarthrosis and 2 broken rods at L3/L4.

  8. #8
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    But my curve has gotten 5 degrees worse in the last three years. To me it seems unethical to just wait and see.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScoliosisGal View Post
    But my curve has gotten 5 degrees worse in the last three years. To me it seems unethical to just wait and see.
    I suspect that it only seems unethical to you because you can't distance yourself from it. If this was someone else's issue, I doubt you would see it as unethical.

    First, there's a 5 degree margin of error, so it's possible that your curve hasn't increased at all. Secondly, the majority of curves under 40 degrees at skeletal maturity will never increase to a surgical degree. So, I think most ethicists would say it was unethical to operate on you. And, as I mentioned earlier, most insurance company employees would never agree to pay for it should you find a surgeon willing to operate.

    Having scoliosis sucks, especially in terms of what it does to our bodies. While I have always disliked how my torso looks, I've gotten over worrying about it. As you age, you'll hopefully discover that the relationships that count in your life, are the ones that aren't with people who would judge you by your imperfect body.

    Regards,
    Linda

  10. #10
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    Great reply Linda, so true. I think at times us women tend to be our own worst critics.

    To the OP, I think your best bet is to go and see a specialist and have your curve monitored over the coming years. In terms of appearance, I'm not sure what a 30 degree curve would look like exactly, but it can't be that difficult to disguise if that's what you want. I know that before surgery, I wore tops that were fitted up top and looser around the hips and these worked well. Experiment and see what works for you. Hope it all goes well for you.
    Diagnosed at the age of 18 (2004)
    46° curve
    Surgery scheduled for April 27, 2009 - Anterior fusion from T12 - L3

  11. #11
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    I sincerely hope your curve stops & never progresses...this is not surgery one does because of one's looks like a nose job or botox injections...this is something that is very serious & scary to those who have to decide whether to go through it for health reasons...due to pain & progression & effects on lungs & heart....

    best of luck
    jess

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScoliosisGal View Post
    Well I have pain as well but its not that bad. I don't see what the big deal is anyways, my curve will most likely get worse if I do nothing which is what most doctors recommend... do nothing until you are bad enough that you need surgery.
    I agree with fusing earlier than the current trigger point of 50* but don't know how much earlier. Simply having scoliosis, even a sub-surgical curve, over time, seems to predispose folks to a panoply of other problems that can be painful enough to trigger surgery anyway down the road.
    Sharon, mother of identical twin girls with scoliosis

    No island of sanity.

    Question: What do you call alternative medicine that works?
    Answer: Medicine


    "We are all African."

  13. #13
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    Someone above gave really good advice--keep monitoring yourself by getting checked regularly. That was my mistake, I waited 25 years to go back and get checked.

    Hopefully you will not progress. If my curves had stayed at 30, I never would have considered fusion. It's a last resort, in my opinion.
    __________________________________________
    Debbe - 50 yrs old

    Milwalkee Brace 1976 - 79
    Told by Dr. my curve would never progress

    Surgery 10/15/08 in NYC by Dr. Michael Neuwirth
    Pre-Surgury Thorasic: 66 degrees
    Pre-Surgery Lumbar: 66 degrees

    Post-Surgery Thorasic: 34 degrees
    Post-Surgery Lumbar: 22 degrees

  14. #14
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    Surgery is usually a last ditch effort. Especially with such an invasive surgery like scoliosis surgery. My surgeon was hesitant for a while and I actually had to beg. And I was a surgical candidate back in 1975!

    Even with today's technology, there still is a chance that complications will occur. Complications that can trigger multiple surgeries in the future. These things weigh heavily on surgeons minds. Having a paralysis or even death on their record is something they will try to avoid at all cost. Patients also need to consider these things also.............I did, for 34 years.

    Surgical candidates have to have all the correct parameters to succeed. If ones curve is too small or even too large, they will not be candidates. I was pushing things in the other direction and I'm glad I made my decision when I did.

    Even if you fall into that area, its still extremely scary. I had a complication and lost my gall bladder, but it could have been quite a bit worse. It happens in 10% of us, but it still happened.

    One of the benefits of having scoliosis is participating in ocean therapy to de-weight the joints. This therapy usually requires a dive trip to Kona. Doctors orders. Nobody believes me, but I have done the studies, and I will continue with my research on Aug 25th. I will dive every day for 3 weeks along the west coast of the big island. My joints will be in great shape after these dives.

    Ed
    49 yr old male, now 55, the new 39...
    Pre surgery curves C12,T70,L70
    A/P T2-Pelvis 01/29/08, 01/31/08 7" pelvic anchors BMP
    Dr Brett Menmuir St Marys Hospital Reno,Nevada

    Bending and twisting pics after full fusion
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/showt...on.&highlight=

    My x-rays
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/attac...2&d=1228779214

    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/attac...3&d=1228779258

  15. #15
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    I can totally empathise with you ScoliosisGal. My degrees measure 34L & 38T. It is extremely frustrating being out of surgical range but still thinking that surgery should be an option, as I do. I also can understand about appearance related to scol, which is OFTEN pushed aside by Docs.

    I bet if scoliosis was a lot more common in society, a curvature of 30 degrees would be a valid reason for surgery. Just because the degree is in the lower range does not invalidate that person’s fears and complications. It actually might enhance it, thinking that they will NEVER be fixed.

    ScoliosisGal, the only thing one can say to ease your psychological pain related to the scoliosis is to say that you are not alone..

    Keep in mind though that advances is spinal surgery are really gonna shoot up soon. I predict that spinal straightening will be a procedure as common as straightening teeth.

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