How Can You Prepare for Surgery?
Before surgery, we recommend your child be in the best physical condition possible, such as eating healthy and taking vitamins and iron supplements. Also, your child should maintain good aerobic function and capacity, and exercise for strength and endurance. Preparing to be in a good frame of mind and thinking positively is very important as well. Lastly, speaking with other patients who have undergone spinal fusion surgery is helpful to prepare for what is ahead.
What Is Recovery Like After Surgery?
After surgery patients typically spend three to five days in the hospital, about four weeks recovering at home, and then for the following six months while back at school are restricted from gym class, participating in sports and some activities.
There are some guidelines (rules) put in place after surgery. These rules followed by your child will maintain the spine in a neutral position and helps with the healing process. Using these rules, your child is expected to move and walk for their activity and helps their muscles and body to feel better. It is possible that your child may also be required to wear a brace after surgery to help support the spine.
Physical therapy may play an important part in your child’s full recovery. A physical therapist will work with your child typically one day after surgery in the hospital until your child transitions home.
Following spinal fusion surgery, pain management is highly effective. At Lurie Children’s, pain specialists and a team manage your child’s experience with post-surgery pain. We take a multimodal approach to pain care to ensure your child feels comfortable, which will aid in their recovery. Your child may receive a combination of these medications after surgery:
- Epidural - continually delivers anesthetic, non-narcotic medication
- Patient controlled analgesic (PCA) - delivers pain medicine through an IV
- Oral pain medicine - for specific types of pain a PCA or epidural may not help with
Your child likely will be transitioned to a combination of oral pain medications in preparation for discharge home. Other strategies to ease the pain are also encouraged including distraction techniques with relaxation and activities such: as reading, doing puzzles, playing board games, watching television.
Your child will also be scheduled for periodic follow-up appointments after surgery (which will include a physical exam and x-rays each visit). Follow-up visits are necessary to ensure their recovery is on track and their spine is stable. These routine visits may continue annually up to five years.
What Are the Outcomes After Surgery?
In the cases involving healthy children with severe curves, corrective spinal fusion surgery with instrumentation is a procedure that corrects scoliosis. After surgery a normal healthy outcome is expected, with a stable corrected spine and satisfactory appearance for a lifetime.