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27 October 2011

Scoliosis Surgery - The Untold Truth

My goal in the upcoming posts is to express and reveal several unspoken facts of scoliosis surgery. This information is delivered to you for educational purposes, knowledge building and choosing an informed scoliosis treatment.

Many scoliosis surgical decisions are made under high pressure from the treating physician, usually because of the rapidly increasing scoliosis curves. Scoliosis surgery procedures should be thoroughly researched, all possible complications understood, with possible alternative treatments reviewed.

This decision may, and can take up to two weeks, barring any traumatic emergencies. Scoliosis curve condition will not change greatly in two weeks. (Remember the wait and see time prior to the magical curve number for scoliosis surgery). An improperly chosen path of scoliosis treatment can become very painful once a person moves beyond their 21st birthday.

Scoliosis corrective surgeries, especially in repeat surgery cases, may damage the body’s sympathetic nervous system. This could produce subsequent loss of function, such as adjusting of one’s heart rate, blood flow, and body temperature regulating during activities.

A percentage scoliosis corrective surgeries may cause intolerable pain and functional difficulties in patients as early as their mid- 20s or 30s. The most severe scoliosis cases require theses patients to be placed on Social Security Disability.

Many times the pain level escalates very quickly after the growth hormone is reduced as a scoliosis person’s moves into their young adult years. This leads into anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxants, anti-depressants, and pain killers.

Bowel and bladder failure may occur if the spinal nerves near the lower lumbar area are damaged during scoliosis correction surgery.

A little known fact that is not discussed at length prior to one’s scoliosis surgery …

Once a scoliosis patient that has undergone scoliosis corrective surgery or spinal fusion, one can never “Go Back” and reverse the process to regain a functional spine.

Think on this…

In 99% of the scoliosis surgeries the joints of the vertebral bodies are surgically removed. They are known as the “Facets”.

Boney architecture removed in scoliosis surgery from the vertebral body is called the “Spinous Process”. This small area of vertebral body is where several muscle groups attach to create body/spinal movement.

You may be wondering, "How do I move this part of my body?"

This is not to be taken as a 3 dimensional model. The spine of a scoliosis person has scores of various changes at the microscopic and macroscopic levels.

Scoliosis is a very complex disease and one should not just take the action of “wait and see” if the scoliosis curve gets worse.

Scoliosis spinal fusion sometimes fails. The cause is due to instrument failure, bone breakage, or intolerable pain.

The fix for broken instruments, bone breakage and horrible pain?

I will strive to make the physics of a fused scoliosis spine simple.

As you may know the scoliosis fusion is 3 to 8 different vertebral bodies cemented together (by bone grafts) and held in place by rods, wires and or screws.

Approximately 6 months to 2 years later the bone heals into a solid column. This scoliosis column leans away from the center of gravity. Pressure is placed at both ends of the column and in the middle.

To understand these actions, take a paper clip and straighten it. As you may experience, it’s hard to get that wire straight, there are usually little curves left in it.

Now place both ends of the semi-straightened paper clip in between your index finger and thumb. Now slowly press your two fingers together.

In this demonstration, your index finger represents your head pushing downward; and your thumb represents your hip/pelvis pushing upward like the supporting of your torso. You should see the paper clip bending into a “C” shape.

Again the goal of this series of writings is to inform you of the realisms of scoliosis surgery and possible untold problems. A well informed person could experience reduced fear and worry surrounding scoliosis decisions.

As learned in the previous writings, the scoliosis curve will progress 1 to 3 degrees per year after one has surgery.


Well in your newly learned data base, the disease of scoliosis is not addressed by surgery; the scoliosis spine is just fused.

Now with the fused scoliosis curves, mechanics straighten by only 20% to 40 %( still a crooked column), this semi corrected curve fusion creates a long lever arm. This lever arm is not straight up and down with the force of gravity, and the forces pull out and downward on the scoliosis spine.

Scoliosis correction surgery is really spinal fusion.

The scoliosis patient is lead to believe that scoliosis surgery corrects the spinal deformity thereby correcting the disease of scoliosis; and that once the surgery scars heal, the disease is terminated.

Sorry to say, the scoliosis surgery procedure cannot, destroy, kill, eradicate, eliminate, and or stop the disease of scoliosis. I am not the first person to say this.

Did you know scoliosis surgical correction (scoliosis spinal fusion) can remove the adolescent from school for 2 to 3 months?

Are you aware that a full time sitter is needed to care for the child after surgery?

Assistance will be needed in the following areas: eating (simple thing as cutting their meat), bathing, going to the bathroom, dressing, studies, game playing, walking, administering medications, and most of all TLC.

The adult may be removed from work for a period of 6 to 12 months, with all of the above care as needed above.

Years after scoliosis surgical correction (scoliosis spinal fusion), the surgical fusion may result in one or more pseudoarthroses (cracks in segments of the fusion that never healed properly or broke with activity or age) often requiring additional scoliosis surgery.

Did you know that scoliosis corrective surgery, really… (scoliosis spinal fusion) can result in large blood loss?

The corrective scoliosis surgery often requiring the scoliosis patient to donate 3 to 6 pints of their blood prior to the operation. The patient may require additional blood from blood banks, thus exposing the scoliosis patient to blood-borne illness.

Did you know that it takes 6 to 12 months in adolescents’ scoliosis and 1 to 2 years in adults’ scoliosis for the bone of the fusion to totally heal? During this time the scoliosis patient may have to take medication for pain relief, wearing a brace, and limit their motion (no bending, lifting and restricted daily activities).

Scoliosis corrective surgery (scoliosis spinal fusion) costs huge sums of money. Charges for a posterior fusion may range upwards from $50,000, with additional surgical complication, the cost may rise an additional $50,000., total sums may range in the $100,000 area.

The anterior/posterior scoliosis surgery (scoliosis spinal fusion) that fuses 8 or more vertebral bodies will cost as much as $300,000.

What happens when the insurance company rejects partial or the total scoliosis insurance claim? What happens when the rod and or screws break six months to a year later?

Scoliosis spinal fusion surgeries are extremely invasive, especially the
fusion of the front vertebral body and then the posterior vertebral body, often
requiring two 15”to 20” incision front and back area. And yes, the incisions are
made in two different days.

During this type of scoliosis surgical procedure the internal organs are
removed from the chest cavity. This is often shifts and disturbs almost all
internal organs.

The lungs are the most venerable, which often need chest tubes following

Anterior/posterior scoliosis spinal fusion surgeries are recognized as the
more invasive as any “elective” surgeries, including heart transplant.

Recovery times from this scoliosis surgery are extensive, difficult, and
emotionally challenging. The body’s hormones totally become reversed, which in
turn creates additional complications while healing.

In some of these cases, adaptive training is given to re-orient the brain to
the “new” body position. WOW!! One would thinks this could be done before
surgery, but this may expose some of the challenges scoliosis surgery.

Did you know, during your scoliosis surgery that bone tissues are taken from your hip?

Yes this is called autologous bone grafts. Bone tissue is laid in-between the posterior spinal vertebra as to promote bone fusion (a cementing affect).

During scoliosis surgery an incision is made along your hip (Iliac crest area), it’s proximally 3” to 5” long.

Some scoliosis patients that have undergone this scoliosis procedure say that the pain is worse than the long excision of the back area. To understand this comment, the scoliosis fusion does not move, but the hips are in constant movement, walking, setting, standing and of course working. This surgical site often leads to future pain and suffering.

Along with removing the bone tissue, the muscle attachments of the hip area are cut. Yes …again creating another biomechanical challenge for which the scoliosis body has to overcome. Some scoliosis surgeons may use the floating rib as autologous bone grafts. The scar is left around the mid waist. Yes, again you guessed it, the pain occurs while breathing, no chance of getting around the pain here.

Learning the different facts about scoliosis surgery may just become somewhat shocking to you. Again the goal of this series of writings is to inform you of the realisms of scoliosis surgery and possible untold problems. A well informed person could experience reduced fear and worry surrounding scoliosis decisions.

Scoliosis spinal fusion surgery still cannot correct all of the 3-D deformities of scoliosis. There is no perfectly straight spine after scoliosis spinal fusion surgery. The curves are still present, still twisted, just reduced and fused.

The ribs are not corrected in surgery, they remain untouched, asymmetrical shaped, meaning the rib hump is still present.

Unlevel hips and shoulders are present post scoliosis surgery. Some shoulder correction is seen, but unlikely straight and or level.
By Maggie Victoria

About Dr Kevin Lau
Dr Kevin Lau DC is the founder of Health In Your Hands, a series of tools for Scoliosis prevention and treatment. The set includes his book Your Plan for Natural Scoliosis Prevention and Treatment, a companion Scoliosis Exercises for Prevention and Correction DVD and the innovative new iPhone application ScolioTrack. Dr Kevin Lau D.C. is a graduate in Doctor of Chiropractic from RMIT University in Melbourne Australia and Masters in Holistic Nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health in USA. In 2006 I was awarded the "Best Health-care Provider Awards" by the largest Newspaper publication in Singapore on October 18 2006 as well as being interviewed on Primetime Channel News Asia as well as other TV and Radio. For more information on Dr Kevin Lau, watch his interviews or get a free sneak peek of his book, go to:

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