The Department of Neurosurgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital provides compassionate, patient-centered diagnosis and comprehensive treatment of scoliosis in teens and adults over the age of 15 years old. Our experienced spine surgeons and physiatrists collaborate in a multi-disciplinary approach to develop a personalized treatment plan for patients with scoliosis. State-of-the-art non-surgical and advanced surgical options are available through the program with the goal of providing the greatest lifestyle improvement for a better quality of life. As a teaching affiliate with Harvard Medical School, our surgeons participate in spine surgery clinical trials and are instrumental in developing new surgical spine treatments and protocols to improve the future of scoliosis treatment.
What is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis, or Spinal Deformity, refers to an abnormal curvature of the spine, resulting in a person’s spine appearing to have a “C” or “S” shape. Broadly, scoliosis/spinal deformity also include conditions such as kyphosis, which is a deformity of the spine in the sagittal (side view) plane. Scoliosis can be progressive and range from mild to severe. Mild scoliosis may not be easily recognized, versus severe scoliosis which is noticeable and can result in chronic, debilitating pain. Given the range of this condition, obtaining a clinical examination from experienced surgeons and physiatrists is essential to ensure the right treatment plan is made for your individual condition and long-term goals.
Scoliosis Risk Factors
Scoliosis can begin in childhood, referred to as idiopathic scoliosis, or it can develop at a much later stage of life, referred to as degenerative scoliosis. The cause for idiopathic scoliosis is unclear. Degenerative scoliosis is caused by the progressive degeneration and arthritis of the spinal facet joints and intervertebral discs as a result of the aging process.
Scoliosis Symptoms, Testing and Diagnosis
Back pain, worse with standing or activity.
Leg pain, or tingling, numbness weakness that radiates down the low back and into the buttock, thigh, calf and/or foot.
Neurogenic claudication, if associated with lumbar stenosis.
Curvature of Spine
An upright standing full length x-ray is the best way to show the severity of the curve (how mild or severe the curve is), and identify parameters which are associated with good surgical or non-surgical outcomes.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is useful in revealing soft tissue abnormality, especially the spinal cord and nerve root compression which often occurs in patients with scoliosis.
Computed tomography (CT) reveals detailed information about spinal bony structure, including facet joint hypertrophy, osteophyte, or fractures such as pars defect or compression fractures.
How is Scoliosis Diagnosed?
Obtaining a comprehensive physical evaluation with a neurosurgical scoliosis expert is an essential piece of the process to appropriately diagnosis scoliosis in combination with the x-ray, CT and/or MRI.
How can Scoliosis be treated?
Our dedicated scoliosis experts will work with you and your family to determine the best treatment option that meets your individual needs, including the latest minimally invasive surgical options as well as non-surgical options.
To schedule an appointment with a physician in the Adult Scoliosis Surgery Program, please contact our Patient Coordinator at (617) 732-6600. We see new patients with a scoliosis diagnosis as soon as the next business day.
If you are a physician seeking to refer a patient to the Adult Scoliosis Surgery Program, please call (617) 732-6600 or you can access our physicians’ office phone numbers. To contact one of our physicians with a question, patient referral or second opinion, you may also email: BWHNeurosurgery@partners.org.