Surgical treatment of paralytic scoliosis associated with myelomeningocele.

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The spines of forty patients with myelomeningocele and paralytic scoliosis were surgically stabilized at the Twin Cities Scoliosis Center between 1960 and 1979. Treatment with posterior spine fusion and Harrington instrumentation extending to the sacrum, combined with anterior fusion using either Dwyer or Zielke instrumentation, gave the best results, correcting scoliosis by an average of 45 degrees (comparing preoperative values with those at the last visit), lordosis by an average of 20 degrees, torso decompensation by an average of 5.7 centimeters, and pelvic obliquity by an average of 7 degrees. This combined fusion method reduced the rate of pseudarthrosis to 23 per cent (compared with 46 per cent when only posterior fusion and instrumentation were used). Prophylactic antibodies (selected on the basis of preoperative cultures of urine) reduced the infection rate to 8 per cent. Posterior fusion or anterior fusion alone was inadequate, even with instrumentation. Early mobilization wearing a bivalved polypropylene body jacket minimized osteoporosis, pressure sores, and social isolation. Unsolved technical problems remain, however, especially in relation to obtaining fusion across the lumbosacral joint.

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