Scoliosis & Deformity Surgery

PROCEDURES EXPLAINEDScoliosis & Deformity Surgery

Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine, usually of unknown etiology. Surgery for scoliosis is usually performed to treat or prevent back pain, undesirable appearance, or decreased lung function. When possible, surgery should be performed at the safest opportunity. In many cases, this will be prior to the occurrence of problems in patients likely to experience them.

What to Expect

  • You will have an IV placed in your arm or hand for the delivery of anesthetic to put you into a deep sleep and prevent pain during your surgery.
  • Your surgical team will usually consist of a vascular surgeon as well as an orthopedic or neurosurgeon. There are several possible procedures, but spinal fusion is commonly performed, and access may be from the front or back.
  • In posterior spinal fusion you will lie on your stomach and the surgeon will make the initial incision along the spine. In the anterior approach, the patient will lie on their back or side, a lung may be deflated, and a rib may be removed to access the spine.
  • The surgeon will attach metal rods to each side of the patient’s spine using hooks or screws attached to the vertebrae.
  • The diseased disc or discs are removed, and the area prepped for grafting.
  • A bone graft is then used to fuse the vertebrae, which may be from the patient’s body, a bone bank, or synthetic. The rods ensure the spine remains aligned throughout the healing process.
  • After the procedure is complete, the surgeon will restore all structures that were moved for the operation back to their normal locations.
  • The incision is then closed, and steri-strips may be placed to facilitate healing.
  • You will then be taken to a recovery area for close monitoring until you awaken. You will still have your IV, and may have a catheter to help facilitate urination while you recover.
  • You may also have a sore throat from intubation. When you are fully alert and awake, you will then be returned to your hospital room.

Experiencing Symptoms of Scoliosis & Deformity Surgery?

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Common Risks and/or Frequently Asked Questions


Blood clots

Nerve damage

Return of symptoms


Post Procedural Instructions

  • Activity Restriction
  • Pain Management
  • Incision Care
  • Call if
  • Desk jobs may be returned to in about 2 weeks, but others may require 4 weeks or more
  • Do not drive or operate heavy machinery while taking narcotics
  • Do not try to lift more than 10 pounds
  • Do not smoke
  • Walk as often as is comfortable on non-slippery surfaces
  • Be mindful of body motion practices, as discussed with your physical therapist
  • Post-procedural pain may last days to weeks as the inflammation subsides
  • Do NOT take NSAIDs in the first few months following surgery, as they can interfere with the bone healing process
  • Take your prescribed pain medication as recommended, and inform your care team if relief is inadequate. It is normal to feel some degree of pain during the recovery process, but it should not be excruciating.
  • Unless otherwise stated, your incisions are most likely sutured from the inside.
  • Dressings may be removed about 48 hours after surgery, and incisions should be washed with soap and water
  • Do NOT soak the incision site, baths, hot tubs, and pools should be avoided for 2-3 weeks until the wounds have fully healed
  • Sunblock with SPF 30 or greater may be used to protect healing skin from discoloration, as new skin will lack the sun protectant pigment melanin
  • Fever of 101.5 F or greater
  • Redness, swelling, warmth around the incision site
  • New neurological symptoms, such as weakness or loss of sensation that was not present before
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control that is new
  • Severe Pain
  • Difficulty swallowing or speaking
  • Severe Headaches
  • Calf Swelling, as this may be a sign of thrombosis
  • Chest pain, difficulty breathing, or cough
An effective and inexpensive option for quickly visualizing skeletal structures and isolating potential problem areas.
This is the treatment modality of choice for visualizing the soft tissues of the back such as ligaments and the intervertebral discs. Similar to CT, MRI imaging may also be enhanced with contrast.
CT Scan
In Computed Tomography, x-rays are taken rotationally and a computer generates a three-dimensional rendering from the two-dimensional slices. This can be enhanced with contrast, called a myelogram, to further visualize the spinal cord and nerves, as well as possible tumors.

Recovery Timeline

Most patients are able to return home within the first few days of spinal surgery.

The first week requires plenty of rest. Even so, you may be standing as early as the first day after surgery. By the end of the first week, tasks that do not require you to bend or lift should be manageable.

During the first few weeks, you will need help with daily chores such as cooking and cleaning from friends and family while you focus on letting your body heal from operation.

As you approach the month mark from the day of surgery, most patients are feeling more energetic. Adults start returning to work, while children and adolescents begin returning to school. Pain medications will usually be unnecessary by this point. Despite feeling better, patients must still be careful to avoid overexertion.

At 6 weeks, your condition will be evaluated during a follow-up visit to evaluate if you can take on more strenuous activities.

By 12 weeks, x-rays will be taken to check on progress. If everything is as it should be, most patients are able to resume most normal activities, with the exception of a few potentially damaging activities requiring much spinal flexibility.

A final check-in will be made typically between 6 and 12 months of surgery, at which point patients can resume all activities once permitted by their surgeon.


Important Disclaimer

The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images and information, contained on or available through this web site is for general information purposes only. Dr. Ashish Patel makes no representation and assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of information contained on or available through this web site, and such information is subject to change without notice. You are encouraged to confirm any information obtained from or through this website with other sources, and review all information regarding any medical condition or treatment with your physician.


Dr. Ashish Patel does not recommend, endorse or make any representation about the efficacy, appropriateness or suitability of any specific tests, products, procedures, treatments, services, opinions, health care providers or other information that may be contained on or available through this web site.


Individuals’ outcomes may depend on a number of factors, including but not limited to patient characteristics, disease characteristics and/or surgeon experience.

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