Is Scoliosis Surgery Dangerous?

When is a Scoliosis Surgery Required and Which is the Surgery Performed To Treat Scoliosis?

In most of the cases, a scoliosis surgery is found to be required if the curvature of the spine is greater than 50 degrees. The main aim of the surgery is to bring down the curvature of the spine as much as possible, so that it can be comfortable for the individual to carry out activities of daily living and other recreational activities as best as one can.

The surgery done for the treatment of severe forms of scoliosis is termed as spinal fusion. This surgical procedure realigns and fuses the curved vertebrae such that they heal into a single solid bone.

Is Scoliosis Surgery Dangerous?

Is Scoliosis Surgery Dangerous?

With the advancement that medical science has made, spinal fusion procedure is deemed to be quite safe and the success rate of this surgery for scoliosis is also very good, although there are certain risk factors associated with this surgery.

As stated, surgery for scoliosis is only recommended when the curvature of the spine is greater than 50 degrees and has the potential for worsening even more. While the surgery for scoliosis is considered to be a safe surgery, but since it involves the spinal cord, invariably there are certain risks that one needs to know before embarking for a surgical procedure for correcting scoliosis. Below mentioned are some of the risk factors pertaining to scoliosis surgery.

Paraplegia: This is one of the most concerning risk factor which is associated with scoliosis surgery. Paraplegia or paralysis is a condition in which an individual loses the ability to feel and move the lower extremities of the body. The risk of an individual having paraplegia as a result of a scoliosis surgery is quite rare, but it is still quite a dangerous preposition when it comes to the risks of scoliosis surgery.

There are adequate methods available which can detect any abnormality in the spinal cord during the surgery, which may lead to paraplegia. These methods are measuring the somatosensory evoked potential and motor evoked potential. The somatosensory evoked potential measures the electrical signals sent to the legs and read in the brain. This shows whether there is appropriate transmission of impulses between the lower extremities and the brain during surgery.

Even if there is a slight change in the reading, this will imply a decreased blood supply to the spinal cord or there is some abnormality occurring in the spinal cord as a result of the surgery and the surgery may be aborted in time.

Similarly, the motor evoked potentials monitors signals related to the muscles during the surgery. With these both tools any abnormality in the spinal cord during the procedure can be tracked beforehand and the surgery may be aborted or a new approach may be taken by the surgeon to prevent any complications such as paraplegia during surgery for scoliosis.

Excessive Blood Loss: This is a complication which is inherent to almost all the surgical procedure and scoliosis surgery is no exception. During a scoliosis surgery, there is plenty of muscle stripping done during surgery, which leaves a lot of exposed areas which tend to cause blood loss.

If the surgeon employs the correct technique, then the blood loss could be kept at a minimum with very rare need for a blood transfusion as a result of blood loss due to scoliosis surgery.

Other than this, some of the other risk factors associated with a scoliosis surgery are:

  • Failure of fusion.
  • Chances of infection to the spine are also there.
  • There are also chances of a cerebrospinal fluid leak.
  • Instrumentation failure or breakage is yet another complication that may arise during a scoliosis surgery.
  • Anesthetic risks which inherent to all surgical procedures.

In summary, surgery for scoliosis can be considered as safe, especially with new technologies that are available to surgeons these days with which they can minimize most of the risks; however, there are certain risk factors such as paraplegia and excessive blood loss, which can be easily monitored by surgeons and if required the surgery can be aborted or the surgical approach changed. Thus, it can be said with absolute surety that scoliosis surgery is not dangerous.

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