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Center for Pediatric Spinal Disorders

What is the Center for Pediatric Spinal Disorders?


The spine is the center of movement and stability and conditions affecting it can change the way your child walks, plays, and moves throughout the day. We know that you want the best care for your child's spinal disorders. Infants, children and teens with complex spine conditions require special care with a dedicated pediatric center that offers specialized surgical expertise. Our Center for Pediatric Spinal Disorders is a multidisciplinary pediatric spine clinic specializing in the cervical (neck), thoracic (midback), and lumbar (lower back) regions.

Treatment requires ongoing care to help with your child's school and other skills that they will use throughout adulthood. Contact our team especially if

  • Your child has a new diagnosis of a spine disorder

  • You want a second opinion through our Second Opinion Program on treatment

  • Your child has been scheduled for surgery

Does your Center have a Complex Spine Team?


Our team includes neurosurgeons, orthopedic spine surgeons, neuroradiologists,and physical therapists have specific training and expertise in the care of children with spinal disorders. Our collaborative approach to care has helped us treat infants, children, and teens with complex  spine disorders. We care for all spinal disorders including: injuries from trauma, developmental or congenital anomalies, tumors, vascular anbnormalities, instability of the spine, and other spinal disorders related to syndromes.


The collection of fluid can happen if:

  • a blockage stops the fluid from flowing

  • fluid stops being absorbed

  • the brain produces too much fluid


Too much creates pressure on the brain inside the skull. If this pressure isn’t relieved, it can damage the brain.

Hydrocephalus is often congenital, meaning babies are born with it, but older children can also develop it. In some cases, hydrocephalus can develop from other brain conditions

Hydrocephalus needs treatment before symptoms get worse. The most common treatment involves diverting the fluid to another part of the body, often using a small tube known as a shunt. Some children may also be eligible for a minimally invasive surgery known as endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) to treat their hydrocephalus.

What is scoliosis? Do you see children diagnosed with this disorder?

Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine and can often cause pain and abnormal development of the spine. The spine is also rotated or twisted, pulling the ribs along with it to form a curve. Our team of pediatric orthopedic surgeons, pediatric neurosurgeons, physical therapists, and rehabilitation specialists are experienced in diagnosing and treating children who have complex forms of this condition.

We work as a team to identify the most effective treatment for your child. Having a spine disorder like scoliosis can be frightening for your child and your family. This is why we believe in least invasive approach to preventing your child’s scoliosis from progressing. We will discuss surgery only after we have evaluated all treatment options.

How do you tell if my child has a spine disorder?


The first step is identifying an accurate and complete diagnosis. Spine problems can be a challenge as the abnormal curves are not always immediately visible. These abnormal curves or spine disorders often do not cause pain and can progress slowly, so they can be overlooked until a child is a teen. Detecting changes like scoliosis early is the most important for successful treatment.

Once a problem is detected, we use a medical and family history, physical exams and diagnostic tests to measure abnormal contours that indicate a spine disorder and determine the:

  • Shape and location of the curve in the spine

  • Inolvement of ribs and muscles

  • Direction of the curve (bend to left or right)

  • Angle of the curve in degrees

What tests do you need to do to see if my child has a spine disorder?

We use the following tests to obtain the best understanding of your child's anatomy

  • Spine X-rays

  • Three dimensional low dose CT (CAT) scans

  • Spine magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

  • Blood tests
  • Ultrasound for infants (sonogram)

  • Bone density scans

  • Pulmonary function tests for lung function


What are the treatment options?


Treatment will depend on the complexity and severity of your child's condition. Our Center for Pediatric Spinal Disorders provides comprehensive treatment where we will evaluate your child, diagnose their condition, consult and provide close follow-up care.

Your child’s team will include her doctor,physical therapist and patient liaison, who will guide you through the treatment process.


Our physical therapist will evaluate your child’s spine, posture, muscle strength and flexibility, and will design a customized program for exercise. Your patient liaison will help with all your questions and appointments.


Non-surgical options


Observation and monitoring: After we have identified an abnormality in the spine or its curve, it is important to monitor as your child grows. Our team determines if your child's curve requires only close monitoring and will work with you on developing a treatment plan and follow-up based on X-rays and physical exams.

Physical therapy: Physical therapy often can help to maximize your child's physical functioning. Our physical therapist provide individual exercise programs for your child's condition. The goal of treatment is address any pain and any muscular imbalance.

Bracing: If your child's spine curve shows worsening, our team may recommend a brace that is designed for your child's spinal disorder. The brace acts to help straighten your child's spine into a position where growth can partially correct the curve or prevent it from increasing.


Surgical options for scoliosis


For certain case, conservative treatment may not be the best option and may not prevent worsening of your child's condition. If surgery becomes necessary, our pediatric neurosurgeons and our pediatric orthopedic colleagues use advanced surgical techniques for correcting spinal problems, such as:

Spinal fusion: This surgery is the most common procedure and utilizes the body's ability to make bone to create a fusion. Instrumentation with rods and screws will help stabilize,  correct, and solidify the bone fusion.


Bone resection: Sometimes bone needs to be removed to create space for straightening your child's spine. Wedge resections of bone are used to both remove the abnormal spine segment and to reconstruct the spine.


Spinal osteotomy: Often bones need to be moved into a different position and we use this process to realign the bone into a better position.

Vertebral column resection: When a sever deformity is found it may be necessary to remove a section of the spineto permit correction and realignment. 

What are the treatment options if my child is still growing?

If you child is younger and is still growing, there are other treatment options that are also available:

Posterior growing rods: These are rods that can grow with your child and that can be lengthened to help control spinal deformity


Expansion thoracostomy: This is a surgical procedure to control chest and spine abnormalities while still allowing the     growth of your child's chest and spine


Magnetic rods system: This system can be adjusted to grow with your child. This surgery uses a non-invasive magnet to lengthen the rod and can limit the number of surgeries needed to place new rods.

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