Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Upper Spine FAQ

Question:

Our 17-year old son has been wearing a brace for three years for Scheuermann's disease. It doesn't seem to be helping. How do we know when it's time for surgery?

Answer:

The Scoliosis Research Society has given us some guidelines to use. Pain and a spinal curve that's getting worse instead of better are the two most common indications.

Curves that measure more than 65 degrees are considered for surgical correction. This is a measurement of the upper back's forward curve. The normal curve is between 20 and 40 degrees.

There isn't much debate about when to do surgery. The real decision is on what kind of surgery to do. Posterior fusion alone is linked with loss of correction.

Surgeons are starting to look at combining a release in the front of the spine with a fusion in the posterior vertebrae. There may be a better correction with less loss this way.

José A. Herrera-Soto, MD, et al. Experience with Combined Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery (VATS) Anterior Spinal Release and Posterior Spinal Fusion in Scheuermann's Kyphosis. In Spine. October 1, 2005. Vol. 30. No. 19. Pp. 2176-2181.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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