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New SA research on the effects of metal implants and frequent radiology in spinal deformity patients

By Orthopaedics SA
Scoliosis - Orthopaedics SA

Written for Scoliosis Awareness Month – June 2020

Scoliosis is a common spine condition, often found in adolescents.  In scoliosis patients, the spine has a sideways curve viewed from the front or back. Normally the spinal column should be straight with less than a 10 degree tilt. The most commonly seen scoliosis (called Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis) develops during the teenage years of rapid growth. If left untreated, it can lead to future problems such as pain and further deformity of the spine.

Surgery for scoliosis has been performed since the 1950s and generally involves metal implants to correct deformities, and stabilise and strengthen the spine.  Regular X-rays are required to monitor the implants and curve of the spine.  A/Prof Cundy and Prof Freeman were recently involved in a research team investigating the risk of cancer in South Australian children who have undergone frequent X-rays and have metal implants for the treatment of spinal deformity.

Based on data from 865 paediatric spinal surgery patients between 1979 and 2011, the study found that there was no increased rate of cancer in these patients.  Radiation exposure and possible exposure to circulating metal ions as a result of routine instrumented spine surgery was not associated with an increased risk of cancer in up to 36 years of patient follow up.

If your child does require surgery for scoliosis, the experienced surgeons at Orthopaedics SA provide a caring service including counselling by our nurses, contact with other families as a resource for information sharing, and time for preparation. You may be asked to participate in one of our scientific trials to improve recovery.  Currently we are recruiting patients for a trial looking to maximise the haemoglobin and ferrous ion reserves pre-operatively.

For more information on scoliosis:

Children’s Private Scoliosis Service:
A/Prof Peter Cundy, Prof Brian Freeman, Dr Yu Chao Lee and Dr Aaron Stevenson

·         Scoliosis patients benefit from the expertise of dual clinicians consulting together

·         All of our Spinal Surgeons have public appointments at the Women’s & Children’s Hospital and/or Royal Adelaide Hospital

·         Our Spinal Surgeons can assist with bracing if clinically needed

To make an appointment for the Children’s Private Scoliosis Service please contact 8267 8267.