Duke spine doctors treat spinal deformities to improve your daily living. Spinal curvature disorders can cause a range of problems, from mild discomfort to debilitating pain, deformity, and breathing problems. We offer an array of nonsurgical therapies, minimally invasive procedures, and surgical options, including complex reconstructive surgery. We tailor our treatment recommendations to your symptoms and health needs so you can return to enjoying your normal activities.
About Spinal Deformities
When the vertebrae in your spine become misaligned, abnormal spinal curvatures can result. The most common conditions are:
- Adult scoliosis -- a side-to-side curve caused by wear and tear on back bones, joints, and discs.
- Flatback syndrome -- a loss of the spine’s curve that causes people to lean forward and have trouble balancing.
- Kyphosis -- also called hunchback, this is a severe curve of the upper back.
- Spondylolisthesis -- when one or more vertebrae moves forward and out of alignment.
Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.
Tests for Spinal Deformities
Your doctor may order one or more of the following imaging tests to diagnose an abnormality in your spine and track its progress over time.
By taking pictures of bones and joints in your back, X-rays can help identify curves, fractures, dislocations, instability, or other potential causes of pain. This test takes about 15 minutes and is virtually painless.
This specialized X-ray uses less radiation than a traditional X-ray. The entire body can be imaged at once, from both the front and side, and it can be done while you stand up.
MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
Magnets and radio waves create detailed pictures of your spine, including your discs and nerves. Images can help identify disc damage or pinched nerves. This test takes about 30 to 60 minutes and is virtually painless.
CT (Computed Tomography)
A series of cross-sectional pictures produce detailed, 3-D images of your spine and spinal cord. This test takes about 30 to 60 minutes and is virtually painless.
A dye is injected into the sac around the nerve roots in your spinal cord to make them more visible on a CT scan. This test is often used for people who are unable to get an MRI. You will probably feel some discomfort during the injection. This test takes 1 or 2 hours.
Why Choose Duke
Highly Experienced Center
Research shows that hospitals and surgeons who perform more surgeries tend to have better outcomes. Our surgical team performs more than 3,000 spine surgeries every year -- including minimally invasive procedures and complex reconstructive surgeries -- and sees over 40,000 patients.
Committed to Advancing Care
As members of the Scoliosis Research Society, our spine specialists stay up-to-date on the latest techniques and advances in the treatment and care of spinal curvature disorders.
Operating Room Technology
Our ORs are equipped with real-time imaging options that gives spine surgeons detailed, 3-D pictures and video of your spine. These systems help avoid the need for extra imaging after surgery, exposing you to less radiation. OR staff also use a sophisticated sensor navigation system -- similar to GPS for your body -- that helps them avoid vital nerves and other structures. This allows for more surgical accuracy than ever before.
In addition to neurosurgeons and orthopaedic surgeons, your team may include physiatrists (physical medicine and rehabilitation doctors who specialize in conservative spine care), physical therapists, and others -- all of whom work with you to reduce and manage the pain and other effects of your spine condition.
We partner with geriatric specialists at Duke to assist people with spinal curvature disorders caused by aging and arthritis. Working with geriatricians helps us achieve better, safer results and allows us to manage all of the complications and risk factors associated with reconstructive surgery in older people. Also, Duke’s POSH (Perioperative Optimization of Senior Health) program helps improve health in people who may not be well enough for surgery.
Where you receive your care matters. Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why our orthopaedics, neurology, and neurosurgery programs are nationally ranked, and are the highest ranked programs in North Carolina, according to U.S. News & World Report for 2020–2021.