Isabella’s Scoliosis Surgery Story

May 28, 2019

The Impact of Scoliosis Surgery on the Body, Mind, and Soul

Xray of before and after back

Before and after Isabella’s scoliosis surgery

IsabellaIsabella of Clinton Township is a very active teenager taking AP classes while playing tennis and enjoying performing arts at her local high school. 

Increasingly her curved spine was becoming a problem and affecting everyday life activities according to her mom Carolina. She took Isabella to the Stilson Specialty Center in Clinton Township, part of the Children’s Hospital of Michigan, Detroit Medical Center to be evaluated.

“About three or four years ago, Isabella was complaining more and more about back pain so we took her to an orthopedic specialist at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Stilson Specialty Center and the doctor said her scoliosis was significant so she was put in a brace for almost two years,” says Carolina. 

Despite the brace, her condition was not improving. Not only did Isabella have back problems as a result of  adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, but it was affecting her ribs and internal organs. Carolina says it progressed so much that her spine looked like an S.

“It affected her ability to play tennis and perform in theatre productions. As a teen, she would also hide her scoliosis by keeping her hair long and not wear certain outfits where you could see her curved spine,” she says. 

The next course of treatment recommended was surgery. The family consulted with Ahmed Bazzi, DO, orthopedic surgeon at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan. Carolina said she instantly knew he was the doctor for the job.

“He was extremely thorough in explaining what to expect from the surgery and I had great confidence that he knew what he was doing and that Isabella would be o.k.,” says Carolina.

“The pre-operative consultation is one of the most important interactions one can have with his/her patients,” says Dr. Bazzi.  “This is where expectations of the family, the surgeon, and most importantly, the teenage patient are thoroughly discussed.  We talk about alternatives, risks, benefits, the procedure itself, all the way down to when one can ride a roller coaster afterwards,” he says.

In order to prevent losing school days, the surgery was scheduled December 19th close to the holiday school break.

“The day of the surgery was the longest day of my life.  I started crying and one of the nurses that was going to be in the operating room hugged me and assured me everything would be o.k.,” says Carolina.

Dr. Bazzi explains a comprehensive team is involved in preparation for the procedure including the surgeon and his assistant, the surgical technician, operating room nurse, pediatric anesthesiologists, neuro-monitoring technicians, perfusionist, implant representative, and the radiology technician. 

“We re-reviewed her x-rays in the operative suite on large screen displays for the entire operative team to see.  A time-out with everyone present confirms the correct patient, the correct surgery, and total preparedness for the entirety of the case,” says Dr. Bazzi. 

“The surgery itself takes about 3 to 4 hours and entails the exposure of the affected spine, morselizing and preparing the joints for a fusion, safely placing screws at the correct levels, and then connecting them to two rods to shift the spine back to straight alignment.  The final stitch is snaked under the most superficial layer of skin for a plastics closure,” he adds.

The first two weeks of recovery were rough, according to Carolina but Isabella recovered very nicely and was able to go back to school after two weeks.  During her stay, Isabella also spoke to another patient who had just had the scoliosis surgery and assured her the pain would get better.

“We are so appreciative that Dr. Bazzi was able to treat Isabella as well as the nurses and staff at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan. The scar looks perfect, like an artist!  Isabella is back to playing tennis and nobody would now know that she had scoliosis. She now has the confidence to wear clothes and cut her hair shorter since she does not have to hide the curvature she had in her spine. For any others considering the surgery, I would highly recommend it. The difference before surgery and after is dramatic and we are so grateful she is back to enjoying life,” says Carolina.