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Scoliosis Spinal Surgery Frequently Asked Questions

Here Are The Top 10 Questions To Ask Your Spine Surgeon

How many days will I be in the hospital?

Post-operative recovery depends on the individual type of surgery, but herniated disk surgeries typically require a 24-hour hospital stay. Times for other surgeries are as follows:

  • Spinal stenosis surgeries: 1-2 days
  • One level reconstruction surgeries with instrumentation and interbody cage: 1-2 days
  • Two level reconstructions: 2 days
  • Three or more level reconstructions with instrumentation and interbody cage: about 3 days

Dr. Antonacci’s hospital stays for cases are typically up to a day-and-a-half shorter than others.*
(*IMAST 18th Annual Meeting, Copenhagen, Denmark, July 13-16, 2011)

How soon will I notice improvement?

Patients typically notice significant improvement once fully awake from surgery within the first day. Most often, they will notice that while they have surgery pain, they no longer have the type of pain that they had prior to surgery. Since surgery pain improves relatively quickly, this is very reassuring to patients, because they notice a significant qualitative change after surgery performed by Dr. Antonacci.

When can I start driving after my operation?

Each patient’s situation is different, so it is best to discuss this on a case-by-case basis with Dr. Antonacci.

When can I shower after my surgery?

Typically between three and five days after surgery, you may shower. Remove any dressings that you may have on, except the tape strips on your skin. Do not scrub over your wound area; just let the soap and water run over your wound as you wash the rest of your body. When done, pat your wound dry and cover with a little gauze and tape.

How long will my surgery take?

Dr. Antonacci’s surgical times are outstanding due to his meticulous expertise and his pioneering muscle sparing techniques. Additionally, Dr. Antonacci has created a specific surgical team that he works with consistently. Whether operating in New York or New Jersey, his team is with him. On average, depending upon the type of surgery, most surgeries will take one to three hours.  Average times for specific surgeries are as follows:
  • Herniated disk surgeries: between 30 minutes and 1 hour
  • Spinal stenosis surgeries: 1-2 hours
  • One level reconstruction type surgeries with instrumentation and interbody cage: between 1-1.5 hours
  • Two level reconstructions with instrumentation and two-level interbody cage: under 2 hours
  • Three or more level reconstructions with instrumentation and interbody cage: about 2.5 hours

How long will I have to wait to get my surgery done?

This depends on the type of surgery required and its preparation. Sometimes we can get a patient prepared for surgery in just one to two days; others may require more time. Dr. Antonacci and the practice strive to work diligently on behalf of our patients because we understand the pain they are enduring and know how much we can help to restore them to their lives.

Will I have to wear a brace after my surgery?

Usually, Dr. Antonacci does not use post-operative bracing on the majority of his patients. However, particular situations (e.g., when a patient has osteoporotic or soft bone) are best treated with post-operative bracing; and is therefore done on an individualized basis.

Does Dr. Antonacci work with interns or residents?

Dr. Antonacci does not work with interns, residents or fellows (i.e., doctors in training). He does not teach in the operative setting or let a doctor in training do half the case, or open or close for him. While he has high regard for teaching institutions, and himself is a faculty member of these institutions, Dr. Antonacci’s belief is that he wants for his patients, whether in the office or in the operating room, the same level of care that he would want for his own family members. Therefore, Dr. Antonacci performs the surgery himself from start to finish, typically with the assistance of another fully practicing spine surgeon, and his physician assistant. We also have a dedicated OR staff specifically trained for spine surgery who work with us on our cases; this provides the optimal environment for successful outcomes from surgery.

Our candidates for muscle sparing, less invasive scoliosis surgery correction have a variety of scoliosis types. Most have idiopathic scoliosis (adolescent, juvenile, or some forms of adult), or idiopathic “like” (i.e., post-syrinx decompression). But we have also treated patients whose scoliosis is associated with a syndrome, a neuromuscular condition or is congenital. Each case is individually evaluated and carefully considered. Most are at least 10 years of age, with or without remaining spine growth; have a thoracic, thoracolumbar or lumbar curve(s) of 30 to 80 degrees (some higher at the time of actual surgery).
Scoliosis Spinal Surgery Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Recovery Timeline for Scoliosis Surgery?

Scoliosis surgery can be a daunting prospect for anyone diagnosed with this condition, but understanding your recovery process and timeline can ease the stress. Upon receiving a confirmed diagnosis of scoliosis, the first question that may come to mind is, “how long will it take for me to recover from surgery?”

The answer isn’t straightforward, as the recovery timeline for scoliosis surgery will depend on factors such as age, underlying medical conditions, type of scoliosis surgery needed, and various genetic factors. During this time, patients must undergo a rehabilitation program to ensure their spine heals appropriately and that the affected areas regain strength and flexibility. Then, under the supervision of skilled medical professionals, patients can optimize their scoliosis surgery recovery times and get back to enjoying life to the fullest.

How Do I Manage Pain After Scoliosis Surgery?

Managing pain after scoliosis surgery is a crucial aspect of the recovery process. Although it may be uncomfortable, it is vital to remember that this pain is temporary and will subside in due course. A spine surgeon may prescribe you pain medication to alleviate discomfort, and you can also follow some post-surgery recovery methods to help ease the pain following your spine correction surgery.

Engage in light exercises and stretching, but avoid strenuous activities that may cause more pain. Use supportive pillows to elevate your head and knees to reduce pressure and make sleeping easier. Remember to take a proactive approach and follow your surgeon’s advice to help you manage post-operative pain and facilitate a smoother, quicker recovery. Additionally, don’t hesitate to communicate with the surgical team about any questions, comments, or concerns you may have throughout the entirety of your scoliosis surgery recovery time.

What Are the Risks of Scoliosis Surgery?

Scoliosis surgery involves the correction of the abnormal curvature of the spine. Regardless of if you’re scheduled for a minimally invasive spine surgery or some other more extensive procedure, things become even more detailed with the use of additional tools such as metal plates, screws, or rods during scoliosis surgery that helps hold your spine in place. (Related: What Is ASC?)

While the surgery can be a life-changing treatment for patients suffering from severe scoliosis, it comes with potential risks and complications — like any other surgery. Infections can occur during or after surgery, in addition to nerve damage and other complications. But while every case is different, you can guarantee the best possible experience by choosing skilled and experienced surgeons. Drs. ABC carefully follow pre-and post-operative instructions and closely monitor for any signs of complications. The team will also help patients weigh the potential risks and benefits of scoliosis surgery before settling on a firm decision. Additionally, you can help by staying aware of any possible signs of problems and getting immediate medical attention before things take a turn for the worst.

How Long Will Pain Last After Surgery?

Pain after surgery is a common concern for patients. While the duration of pain can vary based on individual circumstances, such as the type of surgery and an individual’s pain tolerance, most pain after surgery will gradually decrease over time. Most patients will experience a significant decrease in pain within the first few weeks of their spine correction surgery. However, a select few patients will deal with pain complications for several months after their back surgery for scoliosis, so it’s essential to stay in contact with your surgeons to keep track of your healing process.

Will I Need More Than One Scoliosis Surgery?

One of the more common questions to ask before spinal surgery revolves around the potential for additional procedures. While every patient’s case is unique, you can rest assured that most surgeries are complete with the belief that this will be the only operation necessary. However, depending on the condition of your scoliosis and a few healing factors, some patients require additional procedures to achieve the ideal result.

What Should I Do to Prepare for Spinal Surgery?

Spine surgery is a very detailed process that requires careful preparation, care, and attention to detail. Not only are doctors working with delicate body parts, but they’re often operating with materials like metal plates or rods during scoliosis surgery.

This same attention to detail can help you prepare for your back surgery for scoliosis. One of the many questions to ask before spinal surgery is some variation of how to prepare as the surgery approaches. To ensure optimal results from your proposed procedure, steer clear of particular unhealthy habits before your operation. For instance, you should avoid smoking, as it reduces crucial blood flow and oxygen delivery, which can impede healing, and avoid heavy lifting or vigorous activities, as they can weaken your back muscles. Likewise, talk with your doctor about any medications and supplements you are taking to avoid any potential interactions. You’ll set yourself up for the most successful outcome by heeding these steps before undergoing spine surgery.

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