03 July 2009

Scoring Your Scoliosis

Your child goes in for a school physical and you walk out with an appointment to see a scoliosis expert. It's a situation that's all too common. Many parents are left to wonder whether surgery is in their child's future.
But parents are now getting their answer, thanks a new test.

A scoliosis diagnosis is common in young children and often a brace is used to help correct it. But now a new test can tell you whether it's going to get better or worse.

Medical technology has come a long way. Now saliva in a vile can rate your child's scoliosis.

“The score is designed to tell us whether the patient's curve is going to stay the same or progress as they get older, " Dr. Geoffrey Haft, a scoliosis expert with Sanford Clinic Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, said.

Haft says the DNA test helps to guide a patient's treatment. And 13-year-old Madison Michels is a prime candidate.

Her score is 163, which means her scoliosis is considered moderate to severe. It also means she'll have to wear her brace a while longer.

"I don't really mind it as long as it corrects what my spine is doing,” Madison said.

“The test helped my husband and I find out exactly how serious her scoliosis is and the severity of it and what we need to do,” Madison's mom, Jolene Michels, said.

Looking at an x-ray, you can see how her spine curves without the brace. But when she has it on, her spine is nearly straight. Dr. Haft says the test can hopefully keep his patients from having surgery in the future.

“In the worst case, the curve gets to be over 50 degrees. We have ways of measuring curves and we put a number to it. Curves that are over 50 degrees tend to progress throughout adulthood and we end up doing surgery on those patients and fusing the spine, straightening it out so that it can't progress,” Haft said.

It's a surgery Madison and her family hope her brace will help her avoid.

“It's nice to know that test has said she needs to be wearing this and so we make sure that she does,” Jolene said.

Sanford is one of 42 sites testing the ScoliScore product. It won't become available to the entire orthopedic community until this fall.

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