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Spine Program

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Overview

The spine specialists at Akron Children’s are using innovative technologies and techniques to advance care for children and adolescents with abnormal curvature of the spine (scoliosis and kyphosis), as well as other spinal conditions. We were the first hospital in Northeast Ohio to obtain an EOS Ultra Low Dose 2D/3D Imaging System, which allows higher quality imaging of spinal deformities, while limiting your child’s exposure to radiation. We’ve also implemented best practices and enhanced care coordination for scoliosis surgery to improve your child’s recovery time and shorten their hospital stay.

The most common spinal problem affecting children and teens is idiopathic scoliosis where the exact cause of the curved spine is unknown. In rarer cases, pediatric scoliosis is congenital, meaning the spinal deformity develops before the child is born. Another form is neuromuscular scoliosis, which can occur in children who have medical conditions that affect their ability to control the muscles that support their back and spine. Akron Children’s offers both surgical and non-surgical treatment solutions for pediatric and adolescent scoliosis based on your child’s curvature and age.

Because scoliosis surgery stops the growth of the spine and can also interfere with the growth of the chest cavity, it is typically only performed on children who are going through puberty and are near the end of growth.

If your child is too young to undergo scoliosis surgery, we have several treatment options that allow us to prevent or delay the need for surgery.

Locations/Contact Us

Contact Spine Program

Call Us:
330-543-3500

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Orthopedics
Akron Children's Hospital Pediatric Orthopedics, Akron
Considine Professional Building
215 West Bowery Street
Suite 7200
Level 7
Akron, Ohio 44308
Fax: 330-543-5001
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Our Doctors/Providers

Department Heads:
Todd Ritzman
Todd Ritzman, MD

Interim Chair, Department of Pediatric Orthopedics; Director, Spine Program; Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon

Accepting New Patients
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Physicians/Providers:

Kenneth Bono, MD

Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon

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Lorena Floccari, MD

Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon; Research Director, Spine Program

William Schrader, MD

Clinical Co-Director, Center for Orthopedics and Sports Medicine; Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon

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Treatments

Scoliosis treatment in infants and toddlers

At Akron Children’s, scoliosis in infants and toddlers has been treated with Mehta casts with excellent results. Over a year-long period, your child will be placed in a cast that is changed every 6-12 weeks, depending on their growth. The casts are waterproof, making it easier for you to bathe your child. Once the casting process is complete and your child’s curvature is corrected, a brace will be used to keep the spine in alignment as your child grows.

Scoliosis treatment in younger children

Bracing is frequently used in children ages 5-9. A brace will not typically cure your child’s spine deformity, but it can prevent the curve from increasing so that surgery can be avoided or delayed.

If your child’s curvature worsens before age 10, the spine may not be large enough to allow a definitive spinal fusion, and we may recommend surgery before your child reaches adolescence. In this case, magnetic growth rods or Shilla implants can be used, depending on your child’s condition. These medical devices encourage continued growth of the spine, while controlling or correcting your child’s spinal curve.

Scoliosis treatment in adolescents and teens

Bracing may be an option for your tween or teen with scoliosis, preventing curve progression 75% of the time. We also offer an innovative form of physical therapy known as the Schroth Method that can optimize your child’s function and may be able to improve bracing’s effectiveness to stop or slow your child’s curve progression and prevent further spinal deformity. The Schroth Method is typically used in children ages 9-17.

If surgery is necessary, our orthopedic surgeons will perform a procedure that corrects the spinal deformity and prevents recurrence of the deformity in adulthood. This is called a spinal fusion and helps prevent long term impacts of a curve’s indefinite progression later in life. The surgeon uses metal rods and screws to correct the spine and keep it straight while it heals.

Akron Children’s spinal surgeons prioritize safety and quality. Complex cases are simplified with the use of the innovative O-Arm Surgical Imaging System. This system uses 3D imaging and navigation in real-time to guide surgeons in performing procedures with a higher degree of precision and safety. By using innovative surgical techniques and routinely performing procedures with two attending surgeons, our orthopedic surgeons are able to perform complex procedures safely and efficiently, reducing blood loss and surgical time, which enables excellent outcomes and expedited recovery. This focus on quality and safety enables your teen to return to the activities they love most.

After a spinal fusion, your teen should be able to ease into activities with some restrictions by 3 months, with a full return to activities by 6 months.

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Mehta casting in infants and toddlers

Although Mehta casting is not a new technique for treating early-onset scoliosis in infants and toddlers, it has been shown to be very effective, particularly in correcting moderate scoliosis. The spine surgeons at Akron Children’s are specially trained in this casting technique, which was developed more than 50 years ago by British orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Min Mehta.

The process

Mehta casting allows for gentle, permanent correction of your child’s infantile scoliosis without surgery. If the curve of your child’s spine is more severe, Mehta casting may also be a good option to improve your child’s curve and delay surgery until your child is older.

Your child will be placed in the Mehta cast for one year. The cast will be changed every 6-12 weeks as your child grows. The first 2 years are a time of rapid growth for children, so the Mehta cast works by helping the spine straighten as it grows. This is also why early detection and treatment of infantile scoliosis are so important. 

To make the process easier and more comfortable for your child, the cast is applied under general anesthesia. Special garments and padding will also be placed under the cast to keep your child as comfortable as possible. Akron Children’s is the only Northeast Ohio hospital that uses waterproof casts, which make it more convenient for you to bathe your child. 

Once the curvature of your child’s spine is corrected, a brace will be used to make sure the spine stays in alignment as your child continues to grow.



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