Scoliosis in Children and Adolescent

Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine, occurring at any age, but most often during the growth spurt before puberty begins. Our nationally-recognized pediatric orthopedic team evaluates and determines the right plan of care using the latest in advanced surgical and non-surgical treatment options.

Decisions regarding treatment for scoliosis are made based on the degree of spinal curve and the patient’s age. Small curves may require no treatment at all, or simple observation to confirm that the curve doesn’t worsen. Moderate-sized curves may be treated with a back brace to help prevent further curvature of the spine.

Severe curves, or those that don’t respond to bracing, may require surgery to correct the spine and prevent progression of the condition throughout life. It’s delicate, specialized surgery, in which our orthopedic experts are highly skilled. Most kids are able to resume an active life after treatment.

We are the only hospital in Michigan to offer vertebral body tethering, a new technique used for certain curves that don’t respond to bracing in children who have a significant amount of growth remaining.

John Kemppainen, MD, pediatric orthopaedic surgeon with Spectrum Health Medical Group at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, discusses the detection and treatment of scoliosis, a curvature of the spine.

Treatments we provide

Back Braces
A lightweight back brace will hold the spine in place and prevent the curve from worsening. The type of brace selected will depend on the location and severity of the curve, but many children can be treated with braces that are only worn at night.

Growth Rods
Children with significant growth remaining may require specialized surgery to allow further growth of the spine after surgery; also known as growing rods. We use magnetic growing rods that allow lengthening of the rods in the clinic, without the need for a return to the operating room that used to be needed with previous growing rod techniques.

Surgery
Spine Fusion: Most cases of scoliosis that require surgery are effectively treated with a spine fusion to straighten the spine and prevent the curve from worsening through life.

Vertebral Body Tethering: This bone growth modulation approach uses minimally-invasive surgery to restrain growth on one side of the spine and allow growth on the other side causing the curve to gradually correct itself over time.