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Common Questions about Scoliosis Surgery

The answers to these questions are based on the most common patient scenarios and are not necessarily true in all cases.  You should ask your doctor any and all questions you have about your scoliosis surgery.  He or she knows your case and history better and will be able to provide more personalized answers.  These answers are provided as general guidelines.

Will I be able to have a normal pregnancy in the future?
Yes. Your surgery will not have any effect on your ability to conceive, have a normal delivery, or epidural anesthesia. You may or may not need a C-section, but this is independent of your scoliosis surgery. When you do become pregnant, ask your surgeon to give you one of your x-rays so the anesthesiologist is aware of your anatomy for epidural placement.

What are the rods made of?
Rods are made of stainless steel or titanium. These are inert metals and not rejected by the body. Rarely, a patient may have metal allergies manifested by a reaction to costume jewelry. Patients sensitive to jewelry are usually sent to a dermatologist for testing so the appropriate metal is used in the surgery.

Do the rods stay in my back for the rest of my life?
In the majority of patients, the rods stay implanted for life. In about 2% of patients, the rods are removed. The most common reason for rod removal is discomfort arising from rods irritating overlying muscles. Once the fusion is solid, correction of the curvature usually holds despite rod removal. However, in some children, and more commonly in adults, bending of the fusion mass can occur. For this reason, it is preferable to leave the implants in place.

Will I be able to have an MRI?
Yes. There is no reason why you cannot have an MRI. It is true the rods will interfere with the image on the MRI to some extent, but new techniques allow for visualization of the spine particularly adjacent to the instrumentation.

Will my flexibility remain after surgery?
One of the goals of surgery is to minimize the number of levels of the spine that are fused and to avoid fusing into the lower lumbar spine. This way, motion is preserved. The majority of patients are not significantly affected by the rods. When fusion is carried down to the lower lumbar spine (L4, L5) or sacrum, some decrease in flexibility occurs. Remember, most flexion (forward bending) occurs at the hips, which are not affected by scoliosis surgery.

Updated on: 02/07/13
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