Scoliosis: Looking ahead

PDF download is not available for Arabic and Urdu languages at this time. Please use the browser print function instead

This page gives a few statistics on how many teens may need additional surgery in the future. It describes why additional surgery may be required. It gives an idea of what to expect in terms of medical follow-up as the teen gets older.

Key points

  • While it is not common, teens who have had scoliosis surgery may need more surgery for reasons including infection, painful or prominent rods, or their spine not fusing properly.
  • Your teen's paediatric spine surgeon will advise as to whether they need to see an adult spine surgeon after they turn 18.

If your teen has had scoliosis surgery, it is possible they will need more surgery in the future or need to continue seeing an adult spine surgeon.

Will your teen need more surgery?

It is hard to predict whether your teen will need additional surgery. However, about 2% to 19% of teens who have scoliosis surgery need more surgery at a later date.

One study followed over 1000 teens who had scoliosis surgery for 15 years. This is an older study using older surgical techniques. Numbers are not known yet for newer surgical techniques. The results showed:

  • Approximately 13% required more surgery.
  • Of the teens who needed more surgery, 21% required two or more additional surgeries.
  • The average time between the first surgery and repeat surgeries was two years.

The most common reasons for additional surgery were:

  • Infection: 26% of repeat surgeries
  • Painful or prominent rods: 22%
  • Spine not fusing properly, which is a condition called pseudoarthrosis: 17%

What happens when your teen becomes an adult?

Once your teen turns 18, they may need to transition to the care of an adult spine surgeon. Your teen’s paediatric spine surgeon will let them know if they need to do this. Some paediatric spine surgeons want all of their patients to follow-up with an adult spine surgeon within two years of being discharged from the paediatric hospital. Other paediatric spine surgeons don’t think a visit is required unless there is a problem such as ongoing or increased pain.

Check with your teen’s surgeon to see what they prefer. It is probably a good idea to get the name of an adult spine surgeon in case problems come up in the future.

Last updated: June 1st 2008