by EBSCO Medical Review Board

Surgery is often done on children with a curve over 40 to 50 degrees.

It is done to:

  • Stop the scoliosis from getting worse
  • Reduce the curve
  • Limit future health problems—such as lung disease due to a deformed chest cavity

Many surgery methods can be used. They are all done to:

  • Restore symmetry
  • Support the spine with or without:

The type of surgery done will depend on the child's age.

Fusion Surgery

Spinal fusion joins bones in the spine that are next to each other. This is so they may grow into 1 solid bone. It will limit certain movements. This depends on how many bones are fused. Hardware is used to keep the spine in place while the bones fuse. This surgery is only done in children who are older than age 8 years. It is most often done in adolescents who are close to full growth.

Cotrel-Dubousset Procedure

A metal rod is attached to each side of the spine. The spine is then fused with a piece of bone from the hip area. The bone grows in between the spine bones and holds them together and straight. The metal rods help the backbone stay straight while the fusion takes place. Part of a rod may need to be taken out if it causes pain later on.

Thoracoscopic Anterior Instrumentation

Surgery is done with a scope and tools inserted through small cuts in the chest. There are some benefits to this surgery, but serious problems can happen. All options should be considered before having this surgery.

Non-Fusion Surgery

Non-fusion surgery helps the curve correct itself over time. They do not restrict movement after the spine has healed. Some of these are new procedures. They may not be done everywhere. They include:

  • Epiphysiodesis—Stops growth on the left or right side of the spine. The other side of the spine will keep growing. There will be a slow correction.
  • Vertebral body stapling—Staples are put through a scope and into the spine. The staple acts as a clamp to keep the spine stable. A rod may also be used to keep the spine stable while it heals.
  • Vertebral wedge osteotomy—A wedge-shaped part of spine bone is cut out on the outside of the curve. The open space left in the spine is closed together. A short-term rod is inserted while the bones heal.
  • Magnetically controlled growing rods—A rod is implanted to straighten the spine. Growth adjustments to the rod are done with a magnet. This is done instead of more surgeries.


Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed May 13, 2022.

Congenital scoliosis and kyphosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed May 13, 2022.

Idiopathic scoliosis in children and adolescents. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons website. Available at: Accessed May 13, 2022.

Infantile and juvenile idiopathic scoliosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed May 13, 2022.

Scoliosis in children and adolescents. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: Accessed May 13, 2022.

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