January 3, 2014 – Savanna is a super sweet, super cute 18.5 month old little girl. She will be 19 months when she gets her first cast. Why does she need a cast? She has been diagnosed with Progressive Infantile Scoliosis, and casting is a gentle, non-invasive way to encourage her spine to grow straight.
A little background on Savanna… She was a breech baby. No matter what I did (hips raises, prenatal yoga, rocking on hands and knees, acupuncture with moxibustion, attempted external cephalic version, etc.), nothing worked to get this girl to turn. I felt her head in nearly the same spot from 30-39 weeks gestation. Looking at the scoliosis she has, and other issues she had early on such as torticollis and slight plagiocephaly, I believe her breech presentation may have had a hand in all this.
When she was six months old, we noticed a hump in her back on her left side. She had an x-ray at around seven months, and we found out she had infantile scoliosis. It was not yet considered “progressive.” The hump we felt is actually where the rib cage slightly protrudes in the back due to the curve and rotation in the spine. Her curve (Cobb angle) measured approximately 28 degrees with a rib vertebral angle difference (RVAD) of 14 degrees. Since 80-90% of infantile scoliosis cases resolve on their own, her doctor asked us to come back in four months for another x-ray so we could see if the curve was going to resolve.
When she was 11.5 months old, we went for her second x-ray. Her curve measured approximately 23 degrees with an RVAD of 12 degrees. So, all seemed to be going great. Her curve appeared to be improving. We were optimistic that we would continue to see improvements, and so we were told to come back for another x-ray in six months. We figured we would have x-rays every six months until her curve was gone.
We started physical therapy for her around this time to help with unrelated (but maybe related??) sitting up, crawling, and muscle tone. Around five months after the last x-ray, her physical therapist and I felt that Savanna’s curve may be getting worse (or at least not getting better). However, we decided to really throw everything we had at the scoliosis, in the hopes that we could present her best spine possible at her next x-ray. I started taking her to the chiropractor once a week during the last month before the x-ray, and we ALL felt that she was improving.
In November 2013, when Savanna was 17 months old, we went for her next x-ray. I wasn’t even worried about the appointment because I felt she had improved so much. After the x-ray, the doctor came in to let us know the results. He told us that her scoliosis was now progressive, and her curve was at approximately 43 degrees! Wow… I cannot explain the shock, sadness, fear, and helplessness that my husband and I felt. Maybe if I had prepared myself for this, I would not have been so blind-sided.
Her doctor recommended an MRI scan to rule out any underlying issues that may be causing the scoliosis. If the MRI was clear, then we would proceed to casting. The MRI scan wasn’t completely clear because there is a small syrinx (cyst) in her spinal cord, however, the neurosurgeon who looked at the scan said the syrinx is not a cause for concern at this time.
So, we are on to casting now. She will need to wear a series of casts over a period of one to two years. She’ll have each cast on for 8-12 weeks, and have a few days of a break before the next cast. After her curve improves to a certain point, then we will likely move to bracing for possibly a year or so.
January 17, 2014 – Casting Day #1. We are going to Shriners Hospital for Children in Greenville, South Carolina, and we LOVE it there already!
After the first cast was applied, the doctor said that Savanna did great. She did so much better than he had expected too! He took an x-ray after he got her in the cast, and guess what?? Her curve appeared to be nearly straight! I asked him to ballpark a curve number at this point, and he said he would guess UNDER 7!!!! That is amazing to get that kind of correction in a first cast!! I knew her spine was more flexible than she was showing while she was awake! Mama knows! Now, this correction is not permanent at this point of course, but it is a great start and bodes really well for the future. 🙂
Update August 2014 – When we took her cast off on Aug. 19, it had been 9.5 weeks since she got the cast on! That was a looooooong time to have it on (especially in the hot summer), but I’m happy to report that her skin looked really good with just some minor heat rash and really dry skin, like usual. Thankfully, there was nothing worse. Needless to say, we made the most of her 5 cast-free days!