The family of Uxue, a 17-year-old girl from Spain, found out when she was a baby that she suffered from severe scoliosis. "Uxue had a bad cold and an X-ray needed to be taken to check the condition of her lungs. That was when they detected a 70-degree deviation in her spine that she has carried throughout her childhood and adolescence", explains Pilar, the patient's mother.
From that moment on, the girl was followed up at her referral hospital. Over the years, Uxue wore a brace, did swimming and other types of exercise to partially correct her scoliosis. The deviation of her spine, however, was so pronounced that, far from improving, it worsened, forcing her to walk with a stooped gait. Contractures and pain were part of Uxue's daily life, as well as the difficulty to lead a life like children her age, as the girl had to constantly adjust her posture when walking or sitting down.
When she reached adolescence, these problems were compounded by the aesthetic component: "I had a lot of complexes: I spent years wearing very baggy clothes so that the shape of my back wouldn't show. I don't even remember how long it's been since I went to the beach", says Uxue. The girl's mother explains that, after years of trying everything they were recommended to correct her back while she was growing up, they finally decided to ask for a second opinion. "A friend of the family who knew the SJD Barcelona Children’s Hospital told us that there were specialists in scoliosis in children and adolescents. We got in touch and in a short time they had done all the tests and proposed surgery to cure Uxue's scoliosis", explains Pilar.
Scoliosis surgery using augmented reality
"When we were preparing for the operation, we had doubts and I was worried," recalls Uxue. The family told Dr Alejandro Peiró their concerns about this complex intervention, and prepared for a process that is also long and complex. "Dr Peiró and the entire Traumatology and Orthopaedics team resolved all our doubts before Uxue went into the operating theatre," says Pilar, who adds that both she and her daughter were, however, very eager for the surgery to take place. "We knew that it was going to be done with a new technology, which was being tested, but we had total confidence in Dr Peiró and decided to go ahead," says Pilar.
Uxue's scoliosis surgery was carried out using augmented reality surgical navigation, and it was performed successfully. The precision of the technique makes it possible to reduce the rate of re-interventions in patients, as in this case where, since the girl underwent surgery in autumn, the objective has been essentially her recovery and return to normal. Every year, SJD Barcelona Children’s Hospital performs on average one hundred scoliosis surgeries on patients from Catalonia and other autonomous communities or countries.
"The first few days are complicated; the postoperative period is painful and that has to be taken into account," says Uxue, who adds: "they gave me all the medication I needed to feel well, but I remember the first few days being quite difficult. From then on, the process consists of following the advice you are given and being patient". Three months later, Uxue is now walking normally and is planning to resume activities typical of girls of her age, such as dancing or playing sport. Still in the recovery phase, the young woman is in no hurry to start: "I feel fine now and I'm only going to get better, everything comes", says Uxue.
The most shocking moment for the young woman during her process, the one that made her think that her problem had finally been solved, was the first follow-up visit with the Traumatology and Orthopaedics Department team: "I will never forget the impact of seeing the before and after of the surgery in the X-ray of my spine. I couldn't believe the change in my body in such a short time", she concludes with satisfaction. Thanks to the operation, Uxue's spine has straightened and she has grown 5 centimetres, a new height that shows the effectiveness of the technique. The girl smiles, before her second check-up with the surgeon, and concludes: "I'm counting the days until I can go to the beach again this summer".