What to Expect
Treatment of EOS
Frequently Asked Questions
- Living with EOS
- Being diagnosed with Early Onset Scoliosis can be challenging for patients and families. Diagnosis alone can be difficult because many pediatricians and primary care providers are unsure of treatments available as well as outcomes from those treatments. The Internet is full of resources available to help families cope with the diagnosis, including blogs, forums, and the like. These can often be a positive place for families to connect with each other about their experiences and provide hope for a diagnosis that can sometimes seem like a struggle to deal with. However, it can often be a place where one person’s experience can somehow seem like truth for all. If one person tries an alternative therapy and sees improvement, often others try the same therapy with wildly variable outcomes.
The problem is that all Early Onset Scoliosis diagnoses are not considered equal. Some types of scoliosis have a significant rate of self-resolution without any intervention (some types of infantile idiopathic scoliosis, for example). An intervention in this case may show improvement or resolution of the scoliosis, but this would have improved anyways without any treatment whatsoever. Others may see this intervention described on an Internet forum and try it for themselves for a diagnosis that may not be amenable to this type of treatment, and it may be downright dangerous to do so. Patients with rapidly progressive thoracic insufficiency syndrome not only would not do well with nonoperative treatment, they may be endangering their child’s safety by waiting on treating a problem surgically.
The other big problem with going to the internet for advice is that there is little to no scientific validation of treatments proposed by patients, families, and alternative providers. Without objective evidence backing up any treatment, patients can be put at serious risk by trying unproven or unstudied therapies. At the least, this can be a financial hit to families. At the most, this can cause or allow the problem to get worse—requiring surgical treatment when none was initially needed, or requiring bigger and sometimes more complicated surgery to treat the issue.
- Going to see the orthopedic surgeon
- An orthopedic specialist who is well versed in Early Onset Scoliosis should help families and patients make decisions on treatment. Depending on the type of scoliosis and its severity, non-invasive methods can be utilized to straighten or minimize the curve. Sometimes, a plastic brace or a series of casts can be used to improve a child’s spinal curvature. For more severe cases, sometimes surgery is required to control or correct a curvature.
- Surgery can be broken down into two main groups—growth sparing constructs and spinal fusions. Growth sparing constructs generally consist of a primary inpatient surgery to place spinal implants, followed by half-yearly to yearly outpatient surgeries to lengthen the constructs to allow for growth. These operations are usually performed on patients younger than 10 years old who have significant amounts of growth remaining. On the contrary, a spinal fusion consists of placement of implants into the spine and fusing those sections together so that the spine cannot continue to curve. This is generally done on patients older than about 10 years old or have less spinal growth remaining. Your orthopedic surgeon can discuss with you what type of surgery will be required and why.
- Life after surgery
- Quality of life after surgery and recovery, regardless of the type, generally is as good or better than before surgery. Children with very severe scoliosis generally see the most improvement because of improvements in the size of the space available for the lungs in the chest, thus improving their ability to breathe. Even children with more moderate or mild scoliosis see some improvement in the size and shape of their chests or at least prevention of progression of the curvature in the spine. The goal for the orthopedic surgeon is to provide the best quality of life for the patient at the conclusion of treatment and at the end of growth.
Treatment of EOS
Frequently Asked Questions