When Alyssa was around a year old, my husband and I started noticing that her shoulders were a bit uneven, shoulder blade and rib cage protruded and her torso was slightly twisted. In the beginning we thought that maybe she was just “double jointed”. We mentioned this to the pediatrician at the time and her reply was ” she’ll outgrow it”. As we started noticing that it wasn’t getting any better and in fact seemed to be getting worse, we would attempt to mention it to the pediatrician and somehow the subject was avoided and immediately changed. It was until May 2012 ( 2 months before her 2nd birthday), that we as parents decided to seek a second opinion and took Alyssa to St. Christopher’s Hospital in Philadelphia. There we realized that she had scoliosis and the chances of her “outgrowing it” were slim to none. It was estimated that her spine was curved at approximately a 50 degree angle. As a parent, I felt my heart stop beating and an emptiness in my stomach. We were informed of the risks associated with scoliosis including but not limited to cardiac & pulmonary issues however at this point the orthopedic surgeon at St. Christopher’s wanted to “watch & wait” and see if and how it progressed. Needless to say without any treatment her spine continued to curve and our next MRI showed a curve of 67 degrees( January 2013). In the meantime, we went to visit with a cardiologist and determined that Alyssa had a small heart murmur but wasn’t anything too serious ( we would just watch and make sure it didn’t become compromised due to the curving spine). At this point, the orthopedic surgeon from St. Christopher’s referred us to Shriners in Philadelphia to meet the the doctors there. In April 2013, Alyssa had an MRI done which showed an 87 degree curve in her thoracic spine . The surgeon at Shriners introduced us to something called a “Mehta Cast” which is a plaster cast that Alyssa would be fitted for and would wear this cast for 10-12 weeks at a time with a small break in between. This was/is our best possible answer considering that surgery was out of the question due to her age & size.
Here she spent the night and we learned all about “Flossing & Petaling” the cast. As with any type of plaster type casts, this meant no more baths or pool time. Alyssa was scheduled to go back in to have the cast changed in early October when we were notified that a Chiari Malformation was detected on her MRI. We had her cast removed in early October and Alyssa went back to St. Christopher to meet with a neurologist. On October 24, 2013, Alyssa underwent a decompression surgery and was hospitalized for 4 days. She will need to follow up with the neurologist 6 weeks post op and then every 6 months from then on. Alyssa went back to Shriners in January 2014 to begin casting again and this xray showed a 94 degree curve out of the cast & 61 degree curve in the cast. Her next cast was applied on April 2014, showing a 96 degree curve. In July 2014, Alyssa went into Shriners to be fitted for her summer brace at which time an xray was taken. The X-ray at this time showed an improvement and she is down to 87* curved. We will go back to Shriners in September for another set of xrays and another cast will be applied. Due to the severity of Alyssa’s spine, growth rods and spinal fusion are not out of the question however we are delaying any surgeries and buying valuable growth time by using the casting method.