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For Scoliosis Patients, Minimal Invasion Surgery Has Maximum Results

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A local surgeon in the Bronx has pioneered a less invasive surgical treatment for scoliosis. NY1's Shazia Khan filed the following report.

Miriam Palmer, 14, recently showed off her fancy footwork: Something the aspiring dancer and model once found increasingly difficult to do.

"It was hard for me to breathe like when I had scoliosis, because it affected my lungs, and like it was very hard for me to breathe and for me to do fun stuff," recalls Palmer.

Miriam underwent surgery in July to correct her scoliosis. Usually diagnosed in childhood and adolescence, scoliosis is characterized by an abnormal curvature of the spine, which can impact the heart and lungs. Depending on the degree of the curve, surgery may be necessary. Miriam and her family opted for the newer, minimally invasive scoliosis surgery at Montefiore medical Center.

"Minimally gives us the same amount of correction, with actually less pain and less blood loss," says Dr. Vishal Sarwahi.

Dr. Sarwahi pioneered the technique at Montefiore, one of only a handful of medical centers offering minimally invasive scoliosis surgery.

"Whenever you start a new procedure, you want to see how they have done for two, three years. It's been about three years and we've done more than a dozen patients and all of them have done very well," notes Sarwahi.

Standard scoliosis surgery typically involves about a foot-long incision, but the less invasive procedure involves three incisions about an inch and a half long each.

"Because we are preserving nerve supply and blood supply you're preserving the muscles, you're preserving the ligaments. We're long term results, we're taking 10, 20, 30 years we expect them to be much better.

More immediately, it means smaller scars, a shorter hospital stay and a quicker recovery: Two to three weeks as compared to four to six weeks ore more with standard open surgery.

Dr Sarwahi says most teenagers with routine curves are good candidates for the minimally invasive surgery.

As for Miriam, with her surgery behind her, she's looking forward to dancing towards her dreams.

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