GURUGRAM: City-based doctors gave a 14-year-old Iraqi girl, suffering from an acute 105º curvature in her spine, a breath of new life. They put 23 screws in the bone around her spine during the 16-hour surgery to correct the curvature using two rods, after releasing the bones at multiple points. Six units of blood had to be transfused into her during the surgery.
Living with her deformity, called ‘scoliosis’ in medical terminology, for the past 10 years, Moza (name changed) faced difficulty in breathing, as the curvature pressed on her internal organs like lungs, impeding her normal growth. After the surgery, Moza said, “I feel completely different. I’m 3cm taller now. I can wear whatever I want without worrying about people staring at my back.”
Hitesh Garg, head of spine surgery at the city hospital where the operation was carried out, said scoliosis is a condition where the spine initially grows in a ‘S’ shape for few years, before starting to rotate, making the ribs stick against and compressing the lungs. “Lung compression makes breathing difficult, ultimately leading to growth retardation and in extreme cases, death,” he added.
Moza said she wanted to get rid of this intense deformity that caused her major social embarrassment. Of late, she had also started getting breathless, which prevented her from playing. Doctors in Iraq started expressing concern about her growth and life expectancy.
About the surgery, Dr Garg said Moza’s case was challenging as she was just 14 years old and had to undergo a complex surgery that could lead to paralysis or life-long incontinence. Due to the complexity and long duration of the surgery, doctors decided to carry it out in two phases, five days apart. “Stage 1 involved loosening of contracted structures, while Stage 2 was the major corrective surgery. We used nerve monitoring and navigation-assisted technology to make the surgery safe,” said the doctor.
Consultant spine surgeon Himanshu Tyagi further explained, “In Stage 1, we opened the chest and loosened the vertebrae from the diaphragm, a complicated process that involves handling lungs and major blood vessels of the chest. In Stage 2, we went from behind and put 23 screws in the bone around the spine to correct the curvature, using two rods after releasing the bones at multiple points.”
“We were very scared about the procedure, as doctors in Iraq had warned us of its high risk, chances of paralysis and risk to her life. But as a father, it was an ordeal to see my child growing with a crooked back,” said Moza’s father.
Another expert, H N Bajaj, head of ortho-spine surgery at the hospital, said the seriousness of a situation depends on the rigidity of the curve, ie, the patient’s age. “Correction becomes more tricky and risk of complications increase. Surgery may require accessing the spine from inside the thoracic cavity by deflating the lungs and bringing down the diaphragm, to get inside the abdomen, followed by the Stage 2 surgery from the back,” he added.
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