Adults with scoliosis exhibit a lateral S- or C-shaped curve in the spine that develops due to the normal degenerative changes that take place over time. There are different types of scoliosis that can affect any level of the spine, but adult scoliosis tends to affect the lumbar (lower back) region. Whether a patient was diagnosed with scoliosis in childhood or developed the condition in their 60s, the abnormal spinal curvature may worsen and cause back pain, uneven shoulders and/or waist and other health issues.
Treatment for adults with degenerative scoliosis often begins conservatively (non-surgically) with anti-inflammatories and physical therapy. When these treatments fail to provide relief, surgery may be warranted. Traditional open back fusion used to be the only surgery available to patients, requiring large incisions and dissection of the muscles and other soft tissues that help support the spine. The highly invasive nature of this operation typically leads to lengthy and arduous recoveries, making a return to a relatively normal lifestyle much more difficult.
The minimally invasive alternatives
Today, because of improvements in technology and surgical techniques, Laser Spine Institute is able to offer certain adults with degenerative lumbar scoliosis several minimally invasive alternatives to traditional open fusion. These procedures involve small incisions through which dilating tubes are inserted to push apart – not cut – muscles to gain access to the affected area of the spine. Small surgical instruments are funneled through the tubes and used to:
- Decompress the spinal cord and/or nerve roots by removing portions of vertebral bone to widen the spinal canal (where the spinal cord is located) or foramen (channels through which spinal nerve roots travel); these procedures are known as a laminotomy and foraminotomy.
- Remove one or more damaged intervertebral discs to aid in decompression and allow for vertebral repositioning; this procedure is known as a discectomy.
- Stabilize the affected segment of the spine by inserting supportive implants into empty disc spaces; surrounding the implants with a concentration of a patient’s own stem cells and bone graft material; and securing small plates, rods and screws into the affected vertebrae; these procedures are known as transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) and lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF).
Schedule a consultation
Adults with lumbar scoliosis can contact Laser Spine Institute to find out whether they are candidates for TLIF, LLIF or another one of our minimally invasive procedures.