|Photo: (c) ldambies|
Children with moderate scoliosis are often given braces, which can help stop the progression of the curve. But this treatment is awkward and embarrassing for a growing child. It also stops short of reversing the curve.
At the Center for Early Onset Scoliosis at Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian, Dr Michael Vitale and his colleagues see about 400 scoliosis patients under the age of five each year. Many of the children are treated with a new, minimally invasive technique called spinal stapling. The procedure uses fluoroscopy and tiny incisions to implant staples on the vertebral bodies. (Minimally invasive surgery has the advantage of small scars and easier healing because muscles are only slightly disturbed in the process.) The surgery takes about two hours to complete and can be done on girls up to the age of 14 and boys up to the age of 16. The curve must be 30 degrees or less.
Spinal stapling is one of several new treatments for scoliosis, according to press materials. Vitale says, "while most children do well with spinal fusion, we are on the cusp of a new era in the treatment of scoliosis. For the first time, we have a way to potentially reverse the scoliosis."