Nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report
The Spine Care experts at Children's Mercy manage all aspects of a wide variety of spinal conditions in children and young adults. These conditions include spine deformities such as scoliosis, kyphosis and disc herniations, congenital spine deformity, neuromuscular deformity, spinal fractures/trauma, spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis.
With more than 60 years of combined experience, our spine surgeons and their team are ready to provide expert care for your child and their spine care needs, whether it be surgical or non-surgical intervention. Our advanced practice providers (APRNs) are also specially trained in pediatric orthopedics and spine, and work alongside our surgeons as a trusted resource on the team.
Your Spine Care team
Your Spine Care team includes Dr. Richard Schwend, Dr. John Anderson and a team of specialized nurse practitioners and registered nurses who all work together to coordinate your child's spine care. The Spine Care team also works closely with many other pediatric specialists, including pediatric anesthesiologists, intensivists, rehabilitative physicians, neurosurgeons, certified orthotists and child life specialists.
Everyone on the Spine Care team is a vital component in providing and ensuring the highest level of safety and quality of care before, during and after your child’s procedure and hospital stay.
Nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report
Nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report
Wondering if your child may have scoliosis? Learn about the most common signs and symptoms and how to get care.
Evaluating spinal conditions
The iSpine Clinic is for children 10 years and over who need to be seen for an initial evaluation of their spine for scoliosis. This clinic is staffed by nurse practitioners experienced in the care of children with scoliosis.
The Spine Care team at Children’s Mercy is committed to providing outpatient spine care close to home for patients in their community. Learn about our services in Wichita.
During a spine consultation, your child will be evaluated by a comprehensive care team. This team-based approach allows us to evaluate your child as soon as possible and start them on the path to treatment, if needed.
Non-surgical services for scoliosis
We offer a full range of non-surgical treatment options for kids with scoliosis. This includes Boston bracing and the Rigo 3D brace. Physical therapy may also be part of your child's treatment plan.
Our team works very hard to prevent surgery whenever possible for children with scoliosis. We offer several customized bracing options, including Boston and Rigo Cheneau styles.
Mehta Casting is a type of body casting used with infants. The casting helps straighten the spines of young children with spinal deformities.
Managing spinal curvature in growing children
Young children's bodies and spines are still growing. We want to help their spine grow straight without fusing it and stopping the growth. For these young children, we offer growth-friendly surgical procedures.
Growing rods help children with early-onset scoliosis to manage their curve while their spine is still growing. The Spine Care team offers a variety of spine growth procedures depending on your child's needs. These include MAGEC Rods (MAGnetic Expansion Control), traditional growing rods, Shilla growing rods and vertical Expandable Prosthetic Titanium Rib (VEPTR).
This procedure uses an innovative system of screws and tethers to straighten the spine while adolescents are still growing. We have both open and endoscopic surgical options available. This is an alternative to typical instrumentation and fusion for scoliosis.
Children with conditions of the spine and chest wall that interfere with growth and normal function may benefit from a Vertical Expandable Prosthetic Titanium Rib (VEPTR) device.
Spine surgery for spinal curvature
As children approach skeletal maturity, the options for treating spine deformity will change. Your surgeon will discuss what options are best for your child and their specific deformity.
The ApiFix device is a rod that gradually expands as your child’s spine grows to help straighten a spinal curvature in children with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. The ApiFix device offers a better range of motion for children who still have not completed bone growth.
This technique applies traction to the spine using a halo (metal ring that surrounds the head). The goal of halo gravity traction is to stretch out the spine slowly and carefully prior to a scheduled spine surgery.
Spinal fusion permanently connects two or more of the vertebrae in the spine. This procedure can be done from the front (anteriorly) or back (posteriorly) and is generally only performed in children and teens who have reached skeletal maturity, meaning their bones are done growing.
Spine surgery for spinal defects that are not scoliosis
Children may present to the Spine Clinic with an array of other spine concerns including back pain, leg pain and/or numbness and tingling. Your spine surgeon will evaluate your child for conditions such as spondylosis, spondylolisthesis, or disc herniations. The surgeon will make recommendations if your child is a candidate for surgical intervention or treatment through non-surgical options.
Children may experience back pain or leg pain as a result of an unhealthy disc in their back. Our surgeons will evaluate if your child is a candidate for microdiscectomy, a minimally invasive surgery that removes parts of the disc that are putting pressure on your child's spinal nerves.
Certain types of spondylolysis may benefit by insertion through a small incision of screws used to repair the defect. Computer aided navigation is used to accurately place the screws in the lower lumbar spine.
This procedure typically involves fusing two to three levels of the lower spine rather than a larger amount of the spine to treat spondylolisthesis.
Highest level of surgical care
Children’s Mercy is one of only 30 locations in the nation to be verified by the American College of Surgeons as a Level 1 Children’s Surgery Center.
- Back pain in children and adolescents—while not as common as in adults it can be a source of concern for parents. Depending on the symptoms and signs, the diagnosis and treatment can vary considerably. Often the diagnosis can be made with a thorough history and physical and minimal x-rays. Some children, particularly younger children, presenting with severe pain—particularly at night—require and MRI and lab testing.
- Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis—a curvature of the spine that is typically detected after the age of 10. It can worsen (progression of the curve) and need treatment. The medical provider may recommend observation, exercises, bracing or surgery.
- Congenital scoliosis—a form of scoliosis where the child had an abnormal vertebra or multiple vertebrae at birth. While many can remain stable, some slowly worsen and can require surgery which is often done before school age.
- Early onset scoliosis—a curvature of the spine that occurs or is detected before the age of 8-10 years of age.
- Kyphosis — roundback deformities related to posture and excessive weight.
- Neuromuscular scoliosis—a complex form of spine curvature seen in children with nerve and muscles disorders such as cerebral palsy, Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy, Spinal Muscular atrophy, Rett’s syndrome and many more. The curves can become quite severe at an early age and be challenging to treat with bracing. Larger curves often require extensive surgery which can successfully restore a child's upright balance and allow him or her to sit better.
- Spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis—a defect of the posterior structure of the spine caused by injury or overuse. It can also develop over time. Many children can be managed with physical therapy. Some require a temporary brace. Occasionally injections or surgery are necessary because of chronic back pain or instability.
Advancing spine care through research
Children’s Mercy was one of the largest contributors of participants in the Bracing in Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis Trial (BrAIST), a National Institutes of Health-funded study that affirmed the effectiveness of bracing for young people with moderate adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. We continue to be involved in the second phase of the study.
We collaborate with national spine registries to share information and resources within the research and clinical communities.
Scoliosis and spinal fusion: Kiki's story
At only 2 years old, Kiki Moon began tumbling, dancing and cheering, so when she was diagnosed with scoliosis at 12, she didn’t let it stop her. After surgery to straighten her spine in May 2020, she recovered quickly and is now competitively cheering all year!
Early onset scoliosis: Quinn's story
Why is Quinn Liberman smiling? The 7-year-old is finished with serial Mehta casting and moving to the next phase of treatment at Children’s Mercy for her scoliosis—Rigo Cheneau bracing. To celebrate, she took time for a unique photo shoot documenting her journey.
- Spine Care
- ApiFix Surgery for Spinal Curvature
- Bracing Options for Scoliosis
- Growing Rods
- Halo Gravity Traction
- iSpine Clinic
- Mehta Casting
- Microdiscectomy for Disc Herniation
- Outreach Services
- Pars Repair for Spondylolysis
- Posterior Spinal Fusion for Spondylolisthesis
- Spinal Fusion
- Spine Care Consultations
- Spine Surgery: What to Expect
- Vertebral Body Tethering
- Vertical Expandable Prosthetic Titanium
- Meet the Team