Scoliosis treatment — medical advancements from the Harrington rod

Scoliosis is a spine condition that causes the spine to develop an abnormal curvature, usually shifting the spine in an S-shape to the left or right. This condition can be developed by a degenerative spine condition, though most times it is developed genetically or without a known cause. Generally, children and adolescents develop scoliosis from genetic or unknown sources, while adults develop this condition from a degenerative spine condition that weakens the components of the spine and allows the spine to shift out of place. To learn about the common treatment options for scoliosis and get a background on the minimally invasive spine surgery we offer at Laser Spine Institute, read the following article.

The Harrington rod

As medical researchers consistently shed light on the cause and development of scoliosis throughout children and adults, medical treatment options have become more advanced, precise and effective. For example, up until the early 1990s, the most common treatment option for scoliosis was inserting a Harrington rod into the spine of patients. This treatment was first created in the 1960s and involved fusing a rod to the top and bottom of the curve.

The rod was first fused to the vertebrae and then extended upward and downward to straighten out the curve of the spine. In order for the procedure to be effective, a patient would lie in a full body cast between three to six months to allow the rod to completely fuse and lengthen the spine. As you can imagine, this was an extremely debilitating procedure for patients who had to put their lives on hold while the procedure took place.

Additionally, this procedure was performed on children with scoliosis. Generally, surgical fusion is not performed on children because their spines are not finished growing and developing. Children who underwent a Harrington procedure for scoliosis reported back problems, pain and curvature later in life. Fortunately, years of medical research has allowed patients with scoliosis to undergo a minimally invasive stabilization surgery with fewer risks of complication compared to the Harrington rod.^

Minimally invasive scoliosis surgery

At Laser Spine Institute, we treat adult scoliosis through minimally invasive stabilization surgery. Depending on the cause of scoliosis, our board-certified surgeons+ may remove a damaged disc or vertebra that is causing the spine to shift to the side or they may straighten the spine with implants or spacers and then insert a small fusion rod to hold the spine in place. Patients may be required to wear a back brace for several weeks following the surgery to help the vertebrae heal properly and in the correct alignment. For more information about the treatments available for adult scoliosis, contact our team.

Laser Spine Institute is the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery and has helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck or back pain. To find out if you are a potential candidate for our minimally invasive scoliosis surgery, reach out to us today and ask for a free MRI review.* We are here to help you understand all of the treatment options available so you can make an informed decision about your spine care needs.