Breakthrough treatment: Surgeon removes curve, discomfort that comes with scoliosis

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Robert Rovner explains method

HOUSTON – Surgeons have been correcting severe scoliosis for decades. They straightened the spine, but didn’t have the ability to correct the rotation, so a telltale rib hump still protruded after surgery.

However, one doctor has created a way to address all of that in one operation without adding time or cost.

Audrey Beaman is one patient who is benefiting from the new operation. She can sit or stand without discomfort, after receiving scoliosis surgery to correct a 62 percent curvature.

"There was a lot of other stuff going on at that point, but feeling that immediate release was everything," Beaman said. "It was amazing." 

Beaman wanted a straight spine, but not the rib hump, the bulge that often remains after surgery.

"I could see it in all the pictures we would take, and I just felt like I was so different," she said.

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Robert Rovner worked to fix the rotation. He puts two screws in each vertebrae and, using extensions, straightens each bone into neutral until the whole spine is aligned and de-rotated, and then secures it all with rods.

"If you’re going to go through this operation, you’d like to at least fix the cosmetic part of it as well, and that’s never been ignored, but has never been allowed to be addressed as well as we can right now," Rovner said.

Beaman recently celebrated her "spine-versary," one year since her procedure.

"I stand differently, I walk differently, and just seeing the way it looks makes a huge difference," Beaman said.

Rovner is now working with two companies to improve the hardware for his technique. His hope is that other surgeons will be trained to use this procedure to get better outcomes for patients.