What is thoracoscopic scoliosis surgery?
Most commonly this technique is offered to teenagers, who have a scoliosis curve of around 40 degrees or more in the thoracic spine. The surgery is performed under a special anaesthetic that permits one of the lungs to be deflated to expose the spine inside the chest cavity. While asleep on your side, special keyhole telescopic instruments allow the surgeon to enter the chest cavity through 3 or 4 portal incisions made in between the ribs, each 2cm long. Some of the discs are removed and bone graft is placed in the disc spaces between the vertebrae involved to fuse them together. This fusion can take six to twelve months to be completely solid. A single screw is placed into each vertebra bone (usually 6 – 8 screws). A single titanium metal rod is then attached to the screws, which carefully corrects and stabilises the scoliosis curve while the bones are fusing together.
The goal of this surgery is to fuse a section of the spine so that the scoliosis will not continue to worsen, and to gain some correction. It is not possible or desirable to fully straighten the spine. The titanium rod supports the vertebrae while the bones are fusing together. The metal rod and screws are not removed and stay permanently attached to the spinal column. There is usually no need for a brace after this type of surgery.