What is Growing Rods spinal surgery?
This surgery is required for younger patients who have a moderately severe scoliosis or complex spinal deformity which continues to worsen and is not treatable by bracing. It usually involves both the thoracic and lumbar spine. While asleep facedown, two short incisions are made at either end of where the growing rods are to be placed. Usually two custom made titanium rods with special screws and hooks are attached carefully to the spine at each end. The aim is for your child’s spine to continue to grow while the rods are in place. Spinal cord monitoring is used to keep a check on the impulses from the brain to the limbs to ensure the spinal cord is functioning normally during surgery. The surgery is a ‘minimally invasive’ procedure and as such any blood loss is expected to be minimal and the time in theatre under anaesthetic is approximately 3 – 4 hours.
The goal of this surgery is to prevent the scoliosis or kyphosis from continuing to get worse while the spine is allowed to grow, and to gain some correction as best is possible. The titanium rods have the special ability of being able to be lengthened regularly (approximately every six months), as your child grows. These lengthening procedures are performed mostly as a day procedure and very occasionally may require an overnight stay. It is expected that the lengthening procedures should not disrupt your child to any great extent. There is usually no need for a brace to be worn while you child has growing rods. Your surgeon will advise when it is time for a permanent surgical solution, once your child has grown sufficiently. At this time the growing rods will be removed and a final correction with different rods and fusion will be performed.