Patient Guide

Kids need to be kids—enjoying sports and other activities they love without pain. At the Pediatric Spine Program at Cedars-Sinai Guerin Children’s, we treat your child like we would our own. You receive safe and prompt spine care that includes same-day appointments for urgent concerns.

Pediatric Spine Care Patient Guide: What to Expect

Our providers listen to your child and explain treatments in ways they understand. We help children make sense of their condition and treatment options and encourage them to ask questions.

Diagnosing Pediatric Scoliosis Spine Conditions

During your first visit, your child will receive a full evaluation by our pediatric spine surgeons, including X-rays at our office. You will also receive your nurse navigator’s contact information, so you can follow up with any questions you think of after you get home.

  • Low-dose radiation X-rays: Children with spine conditions get X-rays using our advanced EOS Imaging System. We have one of the Los Angeles area’s few EOS systems. This system allows us to take images of your child’s spine using up to 98% less radiation than a standard X-ray.
  • Additional imaging: Your child may need other imaging, such as an MRI or CT scan. Our in-depth imaging experience enables us to perform CT scans with less radiation exposure and MRIs that are much quicker than a standard MRI.

Preparing for your child’s spine surgery

We schedule surgery when it’s convenient for your family. Your child’s nurse navigator will guide your family throughout the process. Nurse navigators also offer a spine class for children and families who want to learn more about spine surgery.

  • Preparing for surgery: We explain things in a way that makes sense for your child’s age and developmental stage. Your child can inspect spine models, examples of spine rods and screws and other equipment like urinary catheters and pulse oximeters before the procedure.
  • During surgery: We use state-of-the-art technology that gives us a real-time 3D view of your child’s spine on a computer screen during surgery, as well as advanced robotic surgery.
  • Recovery after surgery: Your child will stay in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) for two days of focused care and monitoring. Each nurse in the PICU cares for only one or two children at a time. In most cases, two adults may stay with your child 24/7, but please see our visitor policy for the latest updates.

Children’s Spine Treatment: Frequently Asked Questions

We combine all your child’s tests and exams into one day when possible. We perform X-rays in our offices. We also try our best to offer same-day appointments for CT scans and other imaging.

Your child will receive pain medication after surgery under the supervision of our pain management team, which specializes in relieving postoperative pain. We will also explain pain control techniques like visualization and other nonmedication pain control methods you can use at home. Walking is great for pain relief, so we get children up and walking the day after surgery.

Most children are walking the morning after surgery. Physical therapists help your child regain their strength and function. Our licensed therapists are experienced in caring for children after spine surgery. They help your child set and reach movement goals and provide pain relief strategies.

We use neuro-monitoring and other advanced safety measures during surgery to assess your child’s spine function during surgery. Neuro-monitoring gives us real-time feedback so we can adjust our techniques as needed.

After spine surgery, most children return to school in three to four weeks and return to sports in one to three months.

Absolutely. Our pediatric spine specialists care for young adults often well beyond age 18. We work closely with the adult spine specialists at Cedars-Sinai and can ensure a smooth transition to adult care if needed.

Your nurse navigator will handle any paperwork for school absences and help you file Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) paperwork with your employer.

Studies show it is uncommon for metal rods to set off metal detectors at the airport. But if it happens, this may require an additional screening step, like what someone with a pacemaker would need.

Yes, but how much taller depends on the curve of your child’s spine. Most children are 1 to 2 inches taller after surgery.

No, there is nothing you can do to prevent your child from getting scoliosis. Heavy backpacks or bad posture do not cause scoliosis (though both can cause back pain).

We do not require referrals from a primary care provider.

Our 90-minute spine class provides in-depth information about spine surgery. We encourage children, their loved ones and friends to attend. Find out what to expect before, during and after surgery, learn pain management techniques and ask questions.

We also recommend these websites for additional information:

Make an Appointment or Get a Second Opinion

Call us or send a message to make an appointment, get a second opinion or refer a patient. We offer video visit appointments for your convenience.