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Q: Why are girls more likely to get scoliosis?

A: Girls are at greatest risk of developing progressive adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS). Depending on the study, spine curves in the lowest ranges (10 degrees) are nearly equally distributed between boys and girls. Curves of these magnitude are barely considered scoliosis and usually do not require treatment or lead to problems. Scoliosis that requires surgery, however, affects girls more than boys about 7-8 to 1. The exact cause for AIS is not known. Genetics, or the information in our genes, are thought to have a significant influence. The gene or genes involved may be more common to girls or more easily passed through generations in girls. Other possibilities are that certain hormones may be important in the progression of scoliosis. Research is being actively done to answer many of these questions.

Answered by: Dr. Burt Yaszay from San Diego :: 3/23/12


Q: I had my surgery a long time ago. Is the same procedure I had done ten years ago still being used today?

A: The principles behind surgery are similar to ten years ago. Depending on the exact surgery, it is possible that you would have a different procedure. Ten years ago, many of the surgeries were performed on the front of one’s spine. This meant that for a thoracic scoliosis, the surgery would be done through the chest. This could either be done through a multiple small incisions with a scope or through one larger incision. Some procedures were done through the middle of the back, especially if the procedure need to be done for both the thoracic and lumbar spine. Majority of the procedures (greater than 90%) today are done only through the back. We now commonly use screws to attach the rods to the spine from the back. Tens years ago, if the surgery was from the front, we would have used screws. However if the surgery was from the back, many surgeons were using hooks. The transition to the use of screws in the back has allowed for greater control of the scoliosis. It has allowed us to treat even bigger scoliosis that would normally have required a procedure from both the front and back of the spine to be done only from the back. In general, there has been a decline in the need to go to the front of the spine to treat adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.

Answered by: Dr. Burt Yaszay from San Diego :: 3/23/12