Child Orthopedics

Frequently Asked Questions

My daughter knows two girls who have scoliosis. One has a brace and the other one is going to have surgery. Why the different treatments? When the girls were talking about it, it sounds like the one with the brace actually has a worse curve than the one going for surgery.

Scoliosis, curvature of the spine, is not uncommon. Between three to five percent of children in the western hemisphere have familial idiopathic scolisis, or scoliosis of unknown cause. Treatments for scoliosis vary from patient to patient and doctor to doctor, and while the curve size is an important factor in deciding treatment, it's not the only one. The decision to brace or to do surgery will be based on how quickly the curve is getting worse, if it is, how the curve is affecting the child's body, if one type of treatment (such as bracing) hasn't worked, or even if the patient is cooperating by wearing the brace for the prescribed number of hours per day. In other words, even though two people may have seemingly similar problems, their treatments could be very different, as in the case of these two girls.

Randal R. Betz, MD, et al. Vertebral Body Stapling. In Spine. January 15, 2010. Vol. 35, No. 2. Pp. 169 to 176.

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