Scoliosis Surgeries May Compromise Pulmonary Function

But healthy adolescents fully recover vital capacity and peak flow after three to 12 months

MONDAY, June 22 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, surgical approaches that violate the chest wall are associated with a significant but temporary decline in pulmonary function, according to a study published in the June issue of the Journal of Spinal Disorders & Techniques.

Burt Yaszay, M.D., of Children's Hospital in San Diego, and colleagues retrospectively studied 61 patients who underwent posterior fusion only, or posterior fusion with either thoracoplasty, thoracoscopic anterior fusion, or open anterior thoracolumbar fusion.

The researchers found that the posterior fusion with thoracoplasty and open anterior fusion groups did not recover pulmonary function until three months after surgery, and that the video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery group did not recover function until a year after surgery.

"This study supports the previously published theory that any scoliosis surgery that disrupts the chest wall has a negative impact on pulmonary function," the authors conclude. "However, in the healthy adolescent, this effect is not lasting with a progressive return to absolute preoperative values in vital capacity and peak flow. There is only a difference in the timing of recovery between the approaches. It seems that this initial decrease in pulmonary function has no clinical importance."

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