Friday, March 13, 2009
Medical Reports: Stapling Spines
Scoliosis is a disease that causes a child's spine to curve like an S or a C. Until now, the only treatment options were surgery or a heavy back brace, but now there's a new way to correct the curve. Seven's Christine Cruz has more in today's Healthcast.
WSVN -- Kacey Crespo has yelled, kicked and hit her way into a green belt in Tae Kwan Do.
Kacey Crespo: "It's very good when you come from a hard day at school. You get to go beat stuff up."
Not bad for a girl who has to wear a back brace because scoliosis made her spine grow crooked.
Kacey Crespo: "You just look a little lopsided when you look at yourself."
Karla Crespo: "The worst part was getting her to wear the brace. She had to wear it 16 hours a day.
Scoliosis can be painful, and for some kids the curve makes it hard to breathe, but now a new procedure is straightening spines without the brace or spine fusion surgery.
Dr. Michael Vitale, pediatric spine surgeon: "Stapling has emerged as a way to not only fuse the spine and stop progression, but to potentially reverse the curvature."
Through two small incisions in the side, surgeons implant inch-long metallic staples across the growth plates of the spine.
Dr. Michael Vitale: "The staple is shaped like a rectangle when it's cold, but after being exposed to the warmth of the body, the staple contracts and compresses down, so the curve, right in the operating room, gets straight just from the staple squeezing the curvature."
Doctor Michael Vitale says he sees 30 to 40 percent straightening immediately, but it's not for everyone. Stapling works best for kids with progressive to moderate scoliosis who are still growing.
Dr. Michael Vitale: "There are cases where, if the staples are put in too early, the curve cannot only reverse and go to zero but start to develop the opposite way."
Kacey's spine went from a 32 degree curve to 20 degrees within days.
Kacey Crespo: "I look more straight."
And now she's back in class yelling, kicking and hitting her way to a black belt.
Girls are at least four times more likely to develop scoliosis than boys. Stapling works best for girls up to age 12 and boys up to 14.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Dr. Michael Vitale
Ana Lucia Associate Professor of Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgery
Columbia University Medical Center
3959 Broadway - 8 North
New York, NY 10032