Less-invasive scoliosis treatment allows kids to be kids

Less-invasive scoliosis treatment allows kids to be kids

A new procedure to treat scoliosis is giving children the chance to avoid years of surgeries and the complications that come with it.

The traditional procedure involved conventional growing rods being implanted in a patient’s back. To straighten the spine, the patient would need to have additional surgeries every six months to adjust the rods. That brought with it an inherit risk of complications.

“It is a given, in certain series over 100 percent complication rates throughout the course of somebody’s treatment. So it is not a question of will you get a complication, it is kind of when will you get one,” said Dr. Matt Halanski, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at American Family Children’s Hospital.

This spring, American Family Children’s Hospital doctors started performing a newly approved procedure that utilizes magnets with the growing rods. It allows patients to have the magnets and growing rods adjusted without the need for another surgery.

“Instead of having to go to the operating room, we’re able to just do this in the clinic, so there’s no repetitive incision and there’s no repetitive anesthetic,” Halanski said.

Brayden Strong, an 8-year-old from Menasha, was one of the first children in Wisconsin to undergo the new procedure in April. Five months later, he returned to the hospital for his first adjustment to the magnets, which took only a few minutes. He will return for adjustments every three to six months.

“He doesn’t have to be in the hospital. He can be out riding his bike, he can be a normal kid,” Halanski said.