Meeting Dr. King: A Best Case Outcome

On Monday, Philippe, Charlotte, and I went to meet Dr. King. Not the one we’ve been celebrating all week, of course. Not even his cousin, I don’t think. Dr. King the orthopedist.

Because it floored me, I have to start with the least important information: Charlotte clocked in at 4’7″. I think this is at least an inch taller than her annual check up last month.

On the scoliosis front: Charlotte was examined by Dr. JP Manolo, a resident. He was thorough, kind, and smart.  He took notes, told us what he found and what he was looking for. He explained the different kinds of scoliosis (infant, youth, adult). His conversational tone put us at ease and he observed Charlotte as he spoke. While he was clearly going to examine her, I think he had decided on first glance that he wasn’t looking at anything frightening. So he set about setting us at ease.

Then he examined Charlotte. First, he had her touch her toes. Charlotte has had tight hamstrings forever, so this part of the exam is hard for her–simply touching her toes without bending her knees is a challenge. He measured the curvature in her spine with a device that looked like a level with a half moon cut out of it. And he found a 7% curvature.  Then he sent Charlotte for an x-ray.

Don't you love that they have thought to protect all of her reproductive parts?!

Dr. King came in with Dr. Manolo to explain the findings: Charlotte has a 15% curvature in her spine. This is, he said, “just a number.” 0-10% is “not diagnostic.” 10-30% is considered mild, 30-45% is moderate and >45% is serious, requiring surgery. He noted that +45% is rarely seen in children who don’t have serious underlying  medical issues. Charlotte’s curvature may be related to the truncus arterious and thus be “embryological” or it could be related to the cracking open of her ribs for repair. till related to the TA, but more a result of a surgical interruption in regular growth.

15% requires observation. We’ll go back in about 6 months. At that point, the 15% becomes a baseline and Dr. King will determine if the curvature is progressing or holding steady. He noted that more than 30% would require a brace, but that the doctors understand the repercussions of bracing an adolescent (Deenie, anyone?) and they try to avoid it.

At this point, there is nothing to do. No exercises can prevent or stem the curvature. I think our relief was palpable. I’m quite surprised we didn’t giggle.  All in all, it was another wonderful Lurie Children’s Hospital experience, and not just because we got the answer we prayed for.