Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Upper Spine FAQ

Question:

Our 17-year-old son has a condition called Scheuermann's disease. The doctor has advised surgery to fuse his upper back. How much correction will he get?

Answer:

Scheuermann’s disease (SD) is a spinal condition that starts in childhood and results in excessive kyphosis. Kyphosis is a forward curvature of the spine. In SD, the child or teenager looks like he or she has a "hunchback." The section of spine affected is the thoracic spine from below the neck to the bottom of the rib cage.

The orthopedic surgeon will be able to best answer your question. X-ray measurements are taken and angles of curves are calculated in preparation for this operation. Fusion with rods alongside the spine helps stop the forward progression of this condition.

Studies show an average improvement of about 40 percent with fusion. And because a change in one curve can affect the other spinal curves, this correction also improves the low back curve called the lumbar lordosis.

The spine is a dynamic system and seems to automatically rebalance itself after fusion. This is true even in SD. Long-term studies are still needed to see if these changes are permanent.

Rob C. Jansen, MD, et al. Predictable Correction of the Unfused Lumbar Lordosis After Thoracic Correction and Fusion in Scheuermann Kyphosis. In Spine. May 15, 2006. Vol. 31. No. 11. Pp. 1227-1231.

*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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