Sunday, July 20, 2014

Posterior Spinal fusion for scoliosis - is it worth to undertake it?

Notes :- I had Posterior Spinal Fusion for Scoliosis on 17/2/2014. I underwent this treatment at  UMSC (University Malaya Specialist Center).  My surgery was lead by Prof Kwan Mun Keong. University Malaya Specialist Centre  (UMSC) is the private wing of Pusat Perubatan University Malaya (PPUM).

At current I am in my 5th months post operation. I am really glad that I undergone this spinal surgery. Hear me out. ...Let me share with you that with this major surgery I have back my quality life and I have a number of  health problems resolve as well..

I hope my sharing on scoliosis and me will serve as an encouragement to those who have spinal deformities like me. There is hope/help for you in today modern medical technology.

What is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a medical term comes from the Ancient Greek word describe the abnormal curvature of the spine. Instead of a straight line the person with scoliosis is where their spine is in the shape of “S” or “?”.  SRS (Scoliosis research society) defines scoliosis if the curvature measuring 10 degrees and above.

Scoliosis is more than just a curve to the side. The scoliosis spine is also rotated or twisted.  As the spine twists it pulls the ribs along with it, and it resulted one side of the chest becomes higher than the  other, or the shape of the breastbone distorted. 

Beside that, scoliosis spine will cause the sufferer 
to have imbalance shoulder and hip (one shoulder higher than the other, clothes hang unevenly at the waist because of that).

Extracted from

Once you discovered you or your child have scoliosis it is advisable to seek advice from the spine specialist/doctor.  Need to know the very important fact that spine specialist is the subset from the big group of orthopedician.  With that fact you need to take more care to choose the spine doctor.  FYI not everyone who knocks on spine doctor door are being pronounced the option is surgery, therefore do not afraid.  For adults depending on the degree of curvature and the amount of pain, some just required regular monitoring the progression of the curve and core strengthening exercise.

If the sufferer is a growing child and having a mild curve (less than 30 cobb degree) then brace are being administer first.  Brace is a piece of hard apparel that is specially tailor made to prevent the curve from increasing. This piece of device is advice to fasten to the body for at least 20 hrs per day.  Some child responded well with this treatment instead prevent future progression of curves some individual can even get their spine curve reduce.  Unfortunately some children despite ritually  fasten with the brace for 23hrs per day yet their scoliosis curve keeps increase. For this group of scoliosis growing child eventually the spine doctor suggest them to undergo the spinal fusion for scoliosis once their curve is reaching 45 cobb degree. 

Some prefer to ignore and brush away the word spine surgery even though the spine surgeon recommend it.  They rather let their child to go through alternatives treatment upon treatments having the perception that once the child has past puberty age then the spine curvature will stop to progress. To counter re-act in avoiding being the mockery subject due to abnormal appearance, they educate their child to wear loose fit clothing or wearing many layers of clothes.  To prevent the child to sink deep into self-hatred, frustration and low self-image their constantly inject mental thoughts to train them to be tough-minded.  Being a child normally their path is dictated by their parents.  For some eventually as the days and years pass unknowingly their scoliosis curve deteriorate until their outer appearance  look somewhat like this photo.

Internally the ribs are pressing against the lungs and heart beside reduce the height of the person.  Due to less room space for the heart and lungs it make the sufferer to have difficult in breathing and harder for the heart to pump. If the scoliosis curve happened at the lumbar it will affect the function of bowel system. Some sufferer due to too severe damage on the breastbone  they even have some ribs bone poking into their lungs or heart.

My Life Experience Being a Scoliosian

I am being diagnosed of having scoliosis during my adolescents.  My parents are being informed that I need to be send to the hospital to be further diagnose and treated. However being a child my parents dictate my life. My scoliosis curve was untreated not even with brace.  Scoliosis in me blends together into adulthood for many years before I seek for medical help.  From a 45 cobb degree curve reading taken when I was 24 yrs old over the long period of years it has increase to 64 degree the cobb reading taken on 30th Dec 2013.

How does scoliosis affected me
  • Due to the curve keep increase and it had cause my breastbone distorted. This affected my heart function.  I had fast heartbeat in the acceptable level. This is written over the years in my medical reports.  The normal clinic doctor could not explain why my body re-act in such manner.
  • My spine curvature has reduced my internal organ room space.  I have mild breathing problem, it manifest when I trek. I need to have many stop-over to catch up with my breath.  I was a nuisance to the group because they could not understand why I am walking slowly. 
  • I also have a few vertebrae spine disc rotated within the curve.  I have mild pain when I touch certain part of my back.
  • Over the years as the curvature progress, I could not sleep on my left side. When I did that I have numbness on my palm. I t is indeed very horrified being awake from  my deep sleep to discovered that my palms had turn blue and I am about to lost all the sensation  on my palm.
  • Pain and discomfort sip into my body slowly and subtlety until I could not remember when I start to have soreness on my right pelvic bone. The level of pain/soreness is still within my tolerance level. I do not need any pain-killer. It could be I have a very high level of pain tolerance level therefore I could not recall it does dampen my daily life then.  In those days whenever I feel the soreness is too much for me to handle, I would find a flat surface to rest my back for a few minutes. 
  • My body structure is leaning more and more to the right and my torso is getting shorter and shorter compare to the previous years ago.
  • I suffer “trapped intestine gas” due to smaller room space for my stomach to function.  Placing my hands on my stomach area I could feel the sensation of “boiling water”.
Besides my health deteriorating as the years goes by, unknowingly I also suffer low self-esteem and mild depression due to my disfigured physical appearance of the prominent rib hump.  Unintentionally I shrank into dark corner and inflicted with self-hatred.  I have a lot of whys am I have spine deformities.  I am frustrated because my body could not hang my clothes nicely.  I don’t like others to take any photos of me then. I wish not to see my disfigured physical appearance.  I pass my days with fear knowing well the facts that I am heading to paralysis.  Those days I am clueless on where to find the spine doctor and to what level spine surgery has advanced to.  I am grateful to GOD who is all knowing, that somehow in HIS right time HE lead me to the right spine doctor.  When I ponder back if I don’t seek medical help on time, my spine deformities/curve increase and it continue to cause pressure on my nerves.   Eventually it will lead me to loss co-ordination on my legs making me difficult to walk and then the end result is paralyses.  My close relative ended up in this situation.

I am now passing my 5th month post spinal fusion for scoliosis. I undertake the spinal fusion for scoliosis with the objectives to stop the progression of the curve and to save my internal organs from being squeeze/crush.  In today modern spinal medical technology not only this surgery able to stop  the progressive curvature but is also able to correct the curvature to the safest point.  Spine surgeons would guarantee his/her patient of at least 50% correction of curve.  I have gained 3.5 cm after the operations.  With my spinal curve correction, it creates more room space for my internal organs.

Did this Spinal Fusion for scoliosis lead me to fatal?  NO .. in today medical technology this eerier word  of spine surgery is much more safer than you have thought.  The main criteria are the patient need to have overall good health condition and acceptable level of bone density.  

What did I benefited from this Spinal Fusion for scoliosis.
  • I no longer have palm numbness when I sleep on my left side.
  • My days are more at ease as I no longer need to bear the soreness/tiredness on my right pelvic.  I resume back to office in my 2 months + after operation.  There is one day during the 2 months plus after operation period I worked for 20 hrs (sitting for long hours).  I was surprise unlike those days I no longer need to find a flat surface to lie down in between. 

  • This is not a fancy chair. I sat on this chairs in uncountable times before to attend work discussion/meetings at office.  After my long medical leave from Spinal fusion surgery I sat on this type of chair again to attend meeting. It was a different feel.  I could not describe better in words the nice feeling able to feel my back comfortably hold by this chair. I have not able to have this feeling ever since scoliosis eating me up day by day since I was about 8 – 10 yrs old.  For those who are not suffering from scoliosis you may not able to comprehend this.

  • I started driving again on my 7th weeks after operations when  I feel that my back is strong enough.  My view from the driver seat everything seems to be very nice and beautiful as I am able to sited upright comfortably maneuvering the steering wheels driving along the road.  
Spine health is equivalent to a total being of the person. This spinal fusion for scoliosis surgery not only able to correct/reduce my big huge “C” curve but it also makes me a happier person.  The long accumulated unsatisfied feel on my deformities due to scoliosis leads me to have low self-esteem, mild depression affecting my self -confidence seems to be vanished off.  I am no longer living in fear of ended up bed-ridden cause by just a simple fall/slip.  

With the 16 screws and 2 titanium rods I am now having the posture straighter than when I was 12 yrs old.  I hope that my spine will fussed up properly and I will continue to have quality life from the day my surgeon and his team mates working very hard to correct my spine curve.  I hope that I will continue to walk up-right, able to sit comfortably and able to feel my shoulder blades touch the walls when I lean on it till the moment I take my last breath.

For those who have healthy spine, I urge you to appreciate and take good care of the good and healthy spine that you have.  Lift/carry things in a proper manner.  



For those who are suffering from a severe Adolescence Idiopathic scoliosis like me, are you aware that spine surgeons are God’s extended hard for the miracles that you have being praying for?

我非常感谢 (Prof Dr Kwan Mun Keong, Dr Chris Chan, Dr Lee, Dr Ng, Prof Ng, Dr Shaharol, Dr Shannaz, Winne, Shirley and the medical assitance that render your medical care to me during my admission at Mawar Ward of UMSC  Thank you for taking part in restoring my  spine and given me the second life. I hope that my spine will fussed up properly and I will continue to have quality life from that auspicious day till to the day I die.  I wish that Mr Titanium and me will live happily ever after. 

1 comment:

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