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Study shows that modern surgery for scoliosis has good long-term outcomes
Date:4/5/2011

ed all spinal fusions performed by four senior scoliosis surgeons at HSS between 1991 and 1997. Patients were included in the study if they had idiopathic scoliosis, were 21 years or younger and had surgery that had the surgeon approach the patient's spine from the patient's back versus the front or side. Patients had to have fusion of the spine in their lower back (between vertebra T12 and L3).

Thirty-three potential study participants were located and 20 agreed to participate. These patients returned for a physical examination by an orthopedic surgeon that included an MRI. Doctors recorded their medical history with special attention to level and location of pain and whether or not the patient was taking pain medication. Doctors compared the new MRIs to the ones taken ten years prior, before the surgery.

"We wanted to see how the patients were doing ten years down the road, specifically focusing on the part of the spine that didn't have surgery. The standard belief was that the area of the spine just below the surgery would wear out, because of the increased stress that the surgery or the fusion would put on that part of the spine," Dr. Green said. "That isn't what we found. We found that the area of the spine adjacent to the fusion was pretty healthy and didn't show any major degeneration ten years later. While mild degenerative changes were noted in almost every patient, the severe changes that we were concerned that we might find were not there at all."

The investigators also found that patients had good functional scores and maintenance of balance. No patients reported significant lower back pain. No patients took analgesic medications for their pain, with the exception of four patients (20%) who took occasional non-prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

The investigators say the study results are good news for patients. Dr. Green also said the results may cause worry for investigators and companies who are tr
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Contact: Phyllis Fisher
phyllis.fisher@gmail.com
212-606-1197
Hospital for Special Surgery
Source:Eurekalert  

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