Straightening Out Scoliosis

Orthopaedic surgeon brings non-surgical scoliosis treatment to Cincinnati

A mother’s instinct told Courtney Strotman something was wrong with her baby. Her daughter, Addyson, was 4 weeks old when Courtney noticed the bump on her back.

Courtney’s husband, Brandon, tried to ease her fears, telling her it was just a muscle. But Courtney insisted it was something more.

Five months later, doctors at Cincinnati Children’s diagnosed Addyson with infantile scoliosis. An X-ray last November measured the curve in Addyson’s spine at 26 degrees. Two months later, it had worsened to 42 degrees.

The Strotmans’ options were to do nothing and face the complications of spinal deformity, to put growing rods in Addyson’s spine, or to try to correct the problem with a series of casts that their baby would wear for about a year.

They decided on casting, a method that is quickly becoming the preferred treatment for early onset scoliosis. Orthopaedic surgeon Peter Sturm, MD, recently joined Cincinnati Children’s and brought the Mehta casting technique to Cincinnati.

“We can actually control curves and frequently get them better just with casting,” Sturm says. “It’s less invasive, and it works.”

The idea of avoiding painful surgeries sold the Strotmans on the method. When Addyson turned 8 months old, they brought her in for her first cast. While the baby was under general anesthesia, Sturm manipulated her spine and encased her upper torso in the cast. Less than an hour later, Addyson was back in her mother’s arms, wearing the bright pink plaster and fiberglass cast. The cast will keep her spine straight while allowing her to crawl and learn to walk.

“Kids do great with these casts,” Sturm says. “It’s amazing how they run around with their casts on.”

The cast will be replaced every two months to accommodate the baby’s rapid growth. Sturm says she will wear it until the curve in her spine is less than 10 degrees – probably about a year.  Courtney Strotman says she is happy to put up with the temporary inconvenience if it straightens her daughter’s spine.

“She’s young,” Courtney says. “Hopefully it will get corrected now and we won’t have to do anything down the road.”