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Need advice for picking Dr. for Scoliosis Surgery in Raleigh NC

Started by danisec on 08/08/2010 11:08am

My son Nick has scoliosis with a 67 degree curvature. He started out with a 30 degree curve in 5th grade. He quickly progressed to a 60 degree curve within a year while he went through a huge growth spurt. We decided to try alternative treatments..yoga, muscle therapy, acupuncture and corrective exercise. Unfortunately his curve progressed again to a 67 degree curve,
We are facing surgery and are trying to make a decision between 2 doctors . Dr Lloyd Hey at The Hey Clinic in Raleigh or Dr. Robert Fitch at Duke Lennox Baker Children's hospital.
We think both docs are great in their own way.
Dr. Hey is younger and worked with Dr. Fitch at Duke--he told us that surgery would be 3 -4 hrs and recovery would be 2 weeks and Nick could basically go right back into sports. He also said the incision would be about 6 inches and Nick would instantly grow 2 - 3 inches right after surgery.He said he could correct Nick to 3 -5 degrees. He gave us all the answers we wanted to hear.
Dr. Fitch is a 34 year veteran at Duke university and was highly recommended by our friends. He told us surgery would be about 6 hours with a 11 - 12 inch incision and told us Nick had to stay out of school for 4 weeks and NO SPORTS for 6 months. He said Nick would grow at least by 1 inch.
He would not commit to a number of correction but did say it would be better than 30 degrees.
We are very confused about who to pick and welcome any advice and/or opinions..

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Please read my previous post and reply....

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I'm curious what you decided. My daughter (who also has scoliosis) also has kyphosis which is at 85 degrees. Kyphosis wasn't even mentioned at her visit last year. Dr. Ain from Johns Hopkins wants to do surgery. Out for 6 weeks, no sports for a year..she is an athlete and is devastated. We go to Children's Hospital in DC tomorrow for a 2nd opinion. I'm thinking about contacting Dr. Hey as well. I know that my nephew had surgery for pectus excavatum several years ago with an ortho who had just started his own method of correcting it which was much less invasive. The surgery was a success!!

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My son is 13 and has a 52 degree curve. We too are considering both Fitch and Hey. Who did you decide to go with and what were the outcomes? We have a surgery date in about a month. Thanks!

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My son is 13 and has a 52 degree curve. We too are considering both Fitch and Hey. Who did you decide to go with and what were the outcomes? We have a surgery date in about a month. Thanks!

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Hi all,
I know this reply is pretty late but I see some new questions on here as well. Dr. Fitch's report is more accurate. My son is 2 yrs post op from having his spinal fusion done by Dr. Fitch. His curve was 52% and now as of today his curve is on 5% at the top. Surgery does not totally fix scoliosis but he did grown 1 1/2in. after surgery but not much more as I am a firm believer that the surgery does stunt the growth process. My son's surgery did last about 5-6 hours and yes he has that long scar down the middle of his back. Our hospital stay at Duke was 6 days with PT/xrays and consistent walking. (which they do the very next day after surgery). Walking helps get your mobility back very fast with the morphine pump. We were out of school for 4 weeks and absolutely no contact sports for 6 months. I loved that care that we got and all my questions were answered. I think the ultimate decision is how do you feel about the consultations that you had with both doctors? If you feel that you were told something that you wanted to hear, you may just need a 3rd opinion just to be sure. It is a very invasive surgery and it is a very emotional journey for all family members involved. I hope this helps someone and good luck to you all.

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Dr. Lacin, neurosurgeon, is in Raleigh. I think he is great and I know of several people, two of which are doctors, from other cities in NC that have had him perform back surgrery. I would definitely make an appointment with him, especially being in Raleigh!

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kidzmom14: I had the same expereince as your son for the surgery. Out of school for a period time and a long scar. I am 34 years old now and I have lived with back pain all of my life. I believe the Lord made me this way at Birth for my purpose in life to share with others and learn from others. I was born with scoliosis(curvature), rod implanted (T4-L2) when I was 15 yr old to stop my spine from curving. I think you all made the right decision. The Spinal fushion sugery was performed to stop his spine from curvng so it does not cause him any problems with his major organs. He could have had breathing issues if the spine curved towards his rips or lungs, it also was complted to help his alignment. How many older people have you seen be slumped over, body is to the side of leaning in a particular direction.

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I am glad that your case turned out satisfactory. My only question would be: if Dr. Hey did the surgery, who is to say that the results would not be as predicted? If I were a surgeon and concluded that an incision would be this or that, who is to say it wouldn't? Who can predict with absolute accuracy what outcome a procedure would bring.? Time for recovery, length of incision, etc. is purely subjective in every case.

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