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The spine, if seen from the sides, has normal curves, but it has a straight column when viewed from the front. In certain circumstances, the spine reveals curvatures from the front and this condition is referred to as scoliosis. Hence, the spine’s unnatural forward bending is called kyphosis.

Scoliosis is a Greek word for curvature. During the 19th Century, physicians mistakenly assumed that the main cause of scoliosis was poor posture. However, today, scoliosis is discovered to be either developmental or congenital (present when born) or may be hereditary. This disease makes people’s spines curve to the side, often in the shape of a “C” or an "S", and this curvature could be measured in degrees.

The commonest type of scoliosis is Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis. This happens around the beginning of puberty in boys and girls that are healthy, but it is more common in girls. Uneven shoulders, a rib hump when bending over at waist, one hip lower than the other, and leaning to one side are some of the physical signs of scoliosis.

The primary goal is to stabilize the spine so as to prevent it from curving further, irrespective of the patient’s age. Some scoliosis patients are pain-free and they do not necessarily go for treatment until their deformity is identified. But, unfortunately, it may be too late at that point to treat the disease. The X-ray is used to measure the size of the spine curvature, in degrees. It is possible to monitor the progression of scoliosis by undergoing periodic x-ray examinations. Severe scoliosis may make the spine rotate, and this may narrow spinal spacing on the opposite side of the body.

Though minor deformities may be treated without undergoing surgical operations, but the more severe and persistent ones definitely need surgery.

Surgical Management of Scoliosis

Scoliosis surgical treatment becomes indispensable if the spine curvature when detected is of larger magnitude. The primary purpose of correction through surgery is to stabilize the spine for which the patient's shoulders, head, and trunk are centrally positioned over the pelvis. This can be achieved by using instrumentation to minimize the magnitude of the spine’s deformity and creating fusion so as to prevent future continuation of curvature.

Usage of Staples

The latest development in the scoliosis treatment utilizes staples on the convex side of the spine curvature, which is meant to maintain and correct the curvature until the patient appears to be skeletally matured. These staples permit differential growth to occur by letting the slower growth speed on the stapled side to match that on the concave side, correcting the curvature as the child grows or develops.

Some specialized spinal implants manufactured from Nitinol has been elaborately studied and employed in clinical operations in some centers in the USA and Europe (Nitinol is a titanium-based alloy). The staples are C-shaped when manufactured at room temperature. Cooling the staples below freezing point makes the prongs to be straight, clamping down into the bone in a 'C' shape and providing secure fixation after the staple has returned to body temperature. These staples are referred to as Shape Memory Alloy (SMA). Since no fusion is performed, the child grows healthily and the remaining deformity will also improve with growth.

This sophisticated procedure was performed for the first time in India on a 6-year-old girl at Apollo Hospitals, the girl was from a small town near Madurai.


What is scoliosis? Are there any categories?

Which is commonest type?

Can scoliosis by treated without surgery?

What are the surgical treatment options available?

What are the benefits of the shape memory alloy that has been employed for scoliosis correction at Apollo recently?


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Badriya from Oman, talks about her daughter, Reem's treatment at Apollo Hospitals by Dr. Vani

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Badriya from Oman, talks about her daughter, Reem's treatment at Apollo Hospitals by Dr. Vani. Watch the video to know how the 7-year-old combatted brain cancer.