New procedure bringing alternative to bracing, spinal Fusion for children, teens with scoliosis

New procedure bringing alternative to bracing, spinal Fusion for children, teens with scoliosis
Published: Mar. 17, 2022 at 10:58 AM CDT|Updated: Mar. 17, 2022 at 5:00 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Many Louisiana children and teens struggle with AIS or adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. It’s a side-to-side curve of the spine greater than 10 degrees. It’s also the most common type of scoliosis in that age group.

Doctors have found a way to bring a solution to kids in Baton Rouge.

“Scoliosis is very common in general, especially adolescent idiopathic scoliosis,” said Dr. John Faust, Our Lady of the Lake Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon.

Faust was the first in Louisiana to perform the ApiFix procedure on a 14-year-old girl at OLOLCH.

“She’s two weeks out of surgery, and she’s doing great,” said Faust. “She spent two nights in the hospital, which is typical of our bigger fusions as well, but her overall pain was a lot less.”

Doctors are helping children like her with AIS by attaching a self-adjusting rod to the patient’s spine.

“Allows us to correct a lot of the deformity but without losing the mobility of the spine,” said Faust.

Instead of a child having a traditional spinal fusion.

“We expose the back of the spine and remove all the joints between the vertebral bodies, and then we put in rods and screws to correct the deformity,” said Faust. “But then we put in bone graft, and we get the spine to fuse.”

This is great because it prevents the spine from curving, but it doesn’t allow it to move anymore.

If you fuse a large portion of the spine, you’re sacrificing a lot of motion, which could be a problem later on in life.

“I’m just happy for her,” said Faust. “She’s very excited about it. She’s happy with how her back looks. She’s happy that she got to avoid the fusion procedure, and that’s what I care about. I’m glad she’s happy.”

Faust said the ApiFix surgery is great for long-term back health.

It was first invented in 2012 and was brought to the United States in 2019.

It’s for ages ten and up for healthy kids who have spinal deformities.

“What parents should look out for is if they see a kid with their shoulder that’s kind of elevated or if you look at your child’s waist and it’s kind of asymmetric like they’re tilted over, or you see a waist crease that’s different,” said Faust.

The risk of infection is less than one percent.

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