Teens, parents, surgeons... who's thinking what?

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There are a number of concerns that arise around scoliosis. Find out how these different concerns rank among the patients, their families and their surgeons.

Key point

  • It is important to speak to your surgeon about the specific concerns you have about surgery. Your goals for surgery and fears about having it done may be different than those of your surgeon and/or parents.
  • The number one goal of scoliosis surgery for teens, parents and surgeons is the prevention of a patient's physical appearance from getting worse in the future.
 

This section is a summary of what teens with scoliosis, their parents and surgeons say are their main concerns when deciding to have scoliosis surgery. This is to show you that many teens with scoliosis and their parents worry about the same things. Sometimes their worries are different from what the surgeon is concerned about.

Many teens with scoliosis and their parents think that scoliosis will probably lead to heart and lung problems. This is actually pretty rare and only happens in very large curves (80 to 100 degrees). If preventing heart and lung problems is the main reason you are having your surgery, and your curve is not very large, then you may be basing your decision for surgery on poor information.

It is very important to speak to your surgeon about the specific concerns you have about surgery.

For more information:

What are teens with scoliosis thinking?

These are the top five problems teens with scoliosis think will happen if their scoliosis is untreated, meaning that they decide not to have surgery:

  • Worse physical appearance in the future (73% of teens with scoliosis)
  • Back pain in the future (65%)
  • Restriction of physical or recreational activities (47%)
  • Future health problems (45%)
  • Effect on future self-esteem (44%).

These are the top four undesirable events that teens with scoliosis expect to happen after surgery:

  • Post-operative pain (65% of teens with scoliosis)
  • Short-term restriction of activities (46%)
  • Short-term unpleasant operative scar (46%)
  • Short-term back stiffness (39%).

What are parents thinking?

These are the top five problems parents think their teens will have if their scoliosis is untreated, meaning that they decide not to have surgery:

  • Worse physical appearance in the future (92% of parents)
  • Back pain in the future (77%)
  • Restriction of physical or recreational activities (75%)
  • Effect on self-esteem and future emotional problems (68%)
  • General health problems (63%).

These are the top five undesirable events that parents expect to happen after surgery:

  • Pain after surgery (86% of parents)
  • Short-term restriction of activities (67%)
  • Short-term back stiffness (57%)
  • Short-term unpleasant operative scar (47%)
  • Short-term loss of privacy and independence (29%).

What are surgeons thinking?

These are the top four problems surgeons think teens with scoliosis will have if their scoliosis is untreated, meaning that they decide not to have surgery:

  • Worse physical appearance in the future (96% of surgeons)
  • Effect on self-esteem (71%)
  • Future emotional problems (67%)
  • Back pain in the future (50%).

These are the top three undesirable events that surgeons expect to happen after surgery:

  • Short-term back stiffness (57% of surgeons)
  • Pain after surgery (46%)
  • Short-term restriction of activities (29%).

These are the surgeons’ top five goals of scoliosis surgery:

  • Prevent physical appearance from getting worse in the future
  • Improve current physical appearance
  • Improve current self-esteem
  • Improve current emotional well-being
  • Prevent loss of future self-esteem.

Goals of surgery

How are surgeons’ goals for surgery different from the desires for surgery that teens with scoliosis or their parents have?

RankingWhat teens with scoliosis want from surgeryWhat parents want from surgerySurgeons’ goals of surgery
1Prevent physical appearance from getting worse in the future
2Improve present physical appearancePrevent future lung and heart problemsImprove present emotional well-being
3Prevent future painImprove present physical appearancePrevent future emotional problems
4Prevent future lung and heart problemsPrevent future painImprove present physical appearance
5Prevent general health problems in the futurePrevent future lung and heart problems
Last updated: June 1st 2008