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Scoliosis Surgery: Anterior Approach

Topic Overview

The anterior approach for scoliosis surgery is done through an incision made in the front or, more commonly, the side of the body. The anterior approach may be used for middle or lower spinal curves.

This technique is better for severe curves, including rigid curves in adults. But it has greater surgical risks than posterior surgery alone. Surgeons often use both the anterior and posterior approaches when they operate on a person who has scoliosis. Using this combination of techniques, surgeons can remove discs in the spine and graft bone into the spaces. This is done to help make the spine more correctable.

Other techniques done with an anterior approach use large metal screws that are attached to each vertebra. Each screw has a large head with a hole for the passage of a rod that is tightened at each level. A brace or cast may be needed for about 6 months following surgery. This technique is not recommended for children younger than 10 years because of the small size of their vertebrae.

A new technique known as endoscopic spine surgery is being developed and used. This involves making several small incisions in the chest or abdomen and inserting a video scope and narrow instruments to operate. This method may cause less discomfort and allow for a quicker recovery and a shorter hospital stay.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics
Last Revised July 26, 2013

Last Revised: July 26, 2013

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