Friday, May 27, 2016

How do I find a physician for my child with spinal deformity?

When looking for a physician to care for pediatric spinal deformity it is recommended to seek out providers who are member of the Scoliosis Research Society (SRS) and the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America (POSNA).  The SRS is an organization which requires its member surgeons to have the care of spinal deformity occupy a majority of their clinical practice, and they must contribute to the scientific advancement of spinal deformity knowledge through research.  POSNA is a professional organization centered on the musculoskeletal care of children, from head to toe.  So for both organizations, pediatric spinal deformity occupies a part of their overall focus.  By selecting a physician who is a member of both organizations you will have someone who understands the musculoskeletal system of children and possesses the technical expertise, and interest, in spine deformity surgery. 

What are some other factors should I consider?

            Does the physician work (do surgery) at a tertiary-care children’s hospital?

            Does this hospital have ALL the services my child may need?        

                        A 24-hour pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) staffed by 24-hour pediatric intensivists

Pediatric-fellowship trained anesthesiologists

Pediatric-fellowship trained general surgeons

The full spectrum of pediatric medical specialists (i.e. cardiology, neurology, etc…)

A full-service pediatric radiology department (MRI, CT, ultrasound, bone scanning, etc…)

Hospital reputation (both word-of-mouth and U.S. New and World Report ranking)

            Physician training and experience

            Physician’s annual surgical volume of spine deformity


Next blogpost: Treatment Decision-making: Age and Magnitude

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Internet Medical Jungle

Over the last 20 years the development of the internet and digital medical records has changed medicine dramatically.  For physicians, the rapid access and exchange, of important information about patients has enabled the delivery of faster medical care than ever before.  For patients and parents/caregivers, there is an ever-growing amount information which is accessible, about nearly every possible subject in medicine.  The difficulty is filtering the information, first in terms of topic and secondly determining the accuracy and validity of the information.  Search engines such as Google, Bing, etc… provides the ability to pull in information at lightning speed from across the globe and then list them numerically in order of how close the information matches the search words.  We commonly perceive the higher a website is listed on the search engine the more important, valid or relevant is its information to our question. However in reality, this is not always the case.  Owners of websites can pay the search engines to raise their site to a higher to increase their “visibility” to people using their search engine.

Businesses have long known the value of marketing and that the internet provides a cheap, rapidly-accessible, customizable method to reach millions of potential customers.  Healthcare providers and institutions have also realized this, albeit slower, specifically that this can be a valuable way to market themselves and their services.  The quality of any information available on the internet must be evaluated on an individual basis.  Be wary of claims made by individuals or organizations promising excellent treatment outcomes, over a short period of time, with low recurrence rates, using simple, painless, minimally-invasive or nonsurgical methods/procedures.  Many times these are marketing ploys and not scientifically-proven methods which are based in any high-level medical evidence.  If the promises seem to be too good to believe, they probably are not good options of treatment.  Often these promises play on parents/caregivers emotions, who are trying to find the best treatment for their child.

Caveat emptor.

Buyer beware.

Next blogpost: How do I find a physician for my child with spinal deformity?

Welcome to the Growing Spine Blog!

The aim of this blog is to provide parents and caregivers with clear, concise information on the problems, issues and treatment of pediatric and adolescent spine deformity topics.  We will try to demystify and focus our postings around spine deformity topics (scoliosis, kyphosis, spondylolysis, spondylolisthesis, etc…), in the cervical-thoracic-lumbosacral spine, in patients 0-21 years of age.  Our discussions may wander outside of this area at times, but we will always re-center our attention to the core area of this blog: pediatric spinal deformity. 

There is a significant amount of information available on pediatric spinal deformity topics.  Accessing this information can be easy.  However, it often leaves individuals in a state of confusion, and frustration, when attempting to find current, relevant information on a pediatric spinal deformity topic for their child’s situation.  If you are searching for the best general information available, there are a few websites which can be useful to help obtain peer-reviewed, relevant, unbiased information on pediatric spinal deformity:

Scoliosis Research Society                                    

Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 
These three websites are professional, physician-society websites which are without industry or marketing influence.  Their aim is to provide scientifically-based information without bias.

If you have questions, concerns, or issues in which you are searching for answers please leave a post.  We will routinely review the blog to address new inquiries, answer questions and we will continue to post new information on a variety of pediatric spinal deformity topics.  Thanks for reading!

Next blogpost: The Internet Medical Jungle