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The Section of Spine Surgery at Children's Mercy manages all aspects of spinal care in children and are experts in early onset scoliosis. We use innovative surgical treatments, as well as nonsurgical solutions when possible, including vertebral stapling and guided growth techniques. 

Our team


Our fellowship-trained pediatric spine surgeons provide comprehensive evaluation and treatment of spine disorders in patients from birth through early adulthood. We work closely with other Children's Mercy specialists including pediatric anesthesiologists, intensivists, rehabilitative physicians, neurosurgeons, and certified orthotists. 

Research highlights

  • Global Access to Spine Surgery

    • Our team is conducting a study to investigate how the cost of pedicle screws used during spine surgery are impacting children's access to surgical services globally. 

  • Early Onset Scoliosis

    • Richard Schwend, MD, published an article in AAP News about early onset scoliosis an under-recognized but serious condition. Read the full article (pdf). (Used with permission of AAP News.

Services

Nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report

The spine surgery program treats a wide range of conditions, including scoliosis, kyphosis and spine trauma. The team also provides services like VEPTR, growing rods, spinal fusion and more. 

Vertical Expandable Prosthetic Titanium Rib (VEPTR) is a device that is used for conditions of the spine and chest wall that interfere with growth and normal function.

Children younger than 10 years of age need a different approach than the older patient and teenager. The growing spine needs to be supported by the treatment.

Mehta Casting is a type of body casting used to help straighten the spines of pediatric patients suffering with spinal deformities.

With certain kinds of spinal curves, the correction and fusion is best done anteriorly, or from the front. This process is known as anterior spinal fusion.

Several factors are taken into consideration when a recommendation is made for treatment versus "watchful waiting" for scoliosis. View the factors here.

Posterior spinal fusion with instrumentation is the most common surgery for idiopathic scoliosis in a young person who is skeletally mature or close to skeletal maturity.

Vertebral body stapling is an effective treatment for pediatric patients with scoliosis. The procedure involves placing metal staples between two vertebral bodies to squeeze the growth plates and help straighten the spine.

Common Conditions and Services

  • Early onset scoliosis

  • Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis

  • Neuromuscular scoliosis

  • Congenital scoliosis

  • Spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis

  • Kyphosis

  • Mehta Casting for infantile scoliosis

  • Vertebral Body tethering

  • MAGEC Rods

  • Bracing for scoliosis including Boston and Rigo Cheneau techniques

  • Schroth exercises 

  • Back pain in children and adolescents

Children's Mercy is an American College of Surgeons Verified Center

Highest Level of Surgical Care

Children’s Mercy is one of only 10 centers in the nation to be verified as a Level 1 Children’s Surgery Center — the highest possible rating — by the American College of Surgeons. 

Planning for Surgery

From free valet parking at the front door to personalized follow-up care during your child’s recovery, we want every aspect of your experience at Children’s Mercy to be beyond your expectations.

Read about how to prepare your child for scheduled surgery, what to expect when you arrive, and resources available while you’re here.

Pediatric anesthesia at Children's Mercy

At Children’s Mercy, a pediatric anesthesiologist is an active member of your child’s care team before, during and after their surgery or procedure.

We administer anesthesia for more than 27,000 kids per year—that’s 74 per day—so our team is experienced at finding just-right doses of medication for kids of all sizes. 

Consultation clinics


Spine consultation clinic


The spine consultation clinic was formed in response to the large number of consultation requests for patients with suspected scoliosis. The additional clinic is staffed by nurse practitioners so that we are able to schedule and evaluate new spine patients in a timely manner. There are specific patient criteria designated for these patients as well as a consultation form to complete prior to an appointment being made, in addition to a general new patient form.  During the child’s appointment, patients will receive a thorough evaluation, including spine radiographs and x-rays of their hand and elbow for bone age.  Patients leave clinic with a diagnosis and a plan for appropriate treatment, follow up care, and surgical consultation request if indicated. 

Telemedicine clinic


Telemedicine is available through our spine clinic which provides the ability for interactive healthcare using modern technology and telecommunication. Live, real-time visits allow face-to-face interaction and examination with the patient, family and the provider from a distance. Ask your provider if this service is suitable for your visit and/or available from your location. We offer Telemedicine clinics in the following locations: 

Children's Mercy St. Joseph
(816)236-6900

Children's Mercy Joplin
(417)578-2200