Could Stapling become the new temporary Scoliosis fix?
Stapling – A New Scoliosis Fix (written by Biloine Young @ OTW)
A four-year-old California girl, named Grace, is romping about much like any other child her age, thanks to pioneering surgery by University of California-San Francisco orthopedic surgeon Dr. Mohammad Diab. Grace has severe scoliosis and instead of proscribing a heavy torso-covering plastic brace that she would have to wear for 20 hours a day, Diab stapled together several vertebrae in her spine.
As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, while stapling is a temporary fix, it saves the girl from years of wearing a brace. Also, it is hoped that the stapling will correct the curve and prevent it from getting worse.
Spinal stapling, a surgery designed at a children’s hospital in Philadelphia, is considered both experimental and controversial among scoliosis experts. Some doctors see it as an alternative to the standard treatments, which can be difficult to endure and aren’t always successful.
“I don’t want people lining up for this,” said Diab. “I’m inherently cautious, and it’s not for everyone. But I want people to pay attention, because there may be alternatives” to the traditional treatments.
The most common treatment is the unpleasant bracing procedure which children routinely resist. If bracing fails and the curvature worsens, children often need surgery to implant rods along their spine that force it to grow straight. But that surgery isn’t always successful either, and children need frequent follow-up operations to adjust the rods as they grow.
“It would be nice to have better treatments. Asking a 12-year-old girl to wear this big piece of plastic 20 hours a day is a particular kind of torture,” said Dr. Jim Policy, director of the scoliosis center at Oakland Children’s Hospital. He is waiting for more research on the stapling procedure before he considers using it.
Scoliosis, for which there is no known cause, affects about 1% to 2% of Americans—the majority of them women. A normal spine will have a curve of 10 degrees or less, whereas the spine of scoliosis patients can curve 45 degrees or more.