Tough surgery helps young scoliosis patient

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Leigha Boatwright is back to following her dreams after a local doctor successfully performed a surgery to fix the 12-year-old’s scoliosis that others said was too difficult. 

Alecia Coleman, Leigha’s mother, says she started noticing a difference in her daughter’s posture, and her ability to stand up straight.

“We were worried about her having health issues and health concerns, as well as having physical issues that may have affected her confidence as a pre-teen or a teenage girl,” Coleman said.

Dr. David Siambanes says Leigha’s issues with her spine were the result of a rapid growth spurt. It happened so quickly that there was no time to use a brace or other conservative remedies.

“She ended up with a very severe curve, of severe magnitude," Dr. Siambanes said. "And a very stiff curve, you can tell it’s very stiff because we do side-bending x-rays where you can tell the flexibility of the spine.”

To correct it, he says flexibility was needed. He used a scope to release the disks between the bone to help the curve. Then, an incision was made on the back of the spine.

“The best thing about these procedures is it stops the progression of that deformity, it stops it from getting worse," Dr. Siambanes explained. "Her spine is nearly straight. She’ll have no difference in back pain, or impairments or restrictions or anything that any other child her age will have, that we can tell. So it really has changed her future."

Leigha wears a bone stimulator every day to fuse the bones together and help promote them to grow straight with the rods.

According to the National Institutes of Health, Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis affects an estimated two to three percent of children in the U.S., but the severe curve of Leigha's spine, Dr. Siambanes said, is even more rare.