By Jon Azpiri
Online News Producer Global News
WATCH: A doctor at B.C. Children’s Hospital is the first in Canada to introduce a new spinal surgery to treat scoliosis. Tanya Beja reports.
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Practising piano is something Nia Misiak can finally enjoy.
“I find I can sit up a lot straighter and I can play for longer periods of time because I don’t have to take breaks as often,” she said.
Eight months ago, back pain prevented her from sitting still long enough to learn a song.
“I just thought I pulled a muscle or something, but then it was getting worse and worse,” she recalls.
Misiak was diagnosed with scoliosis. Doctors discovered a 60-degree curve in her spine.
Until now, treating scoliosis involved inserting screws and a metal rod along a patient’s spine. The procedure can be painful, recovery can take up to nine months and patients often lose mobility.
Dr. Firoz Miyanji is the first doctor in Canada to introduce an alternative treatment known as vertebral body tethering. Instead of using a metal rod, doctors insert a rope that “allows some flexibility of the spine.”
“If you look over time, 18 months later you can see that the spine is straightened without actually fusing that area of the spine,” Miyanji said.
Last October, 12-year-old Misiak qualified for the surgery at BC Children’s Hospital.
Over nine hours, a specialized team of doctors and nurses deflated her lung and inserted the tether.
Within two days, Misiak was walking. Within a month she could swim and play music again.
“I felt 10 times taller, and I felt my posture was very good,” she said.
“I thought I was going to have to look after her lying on her bed,” mother Stacey Misiak said. “We literally had to hold her back from activities. She was ready to go.”
Misiak is one of 30 patients at BC Children’s Hospital who have had their spines tethered.
Since the procedure, Misiak’s curve is almost gone and she’s grown more than two inches.
She’s even planning a trip to play music in New York.
“It changed my life so much,” she said. “Now I feel like a whole new person.”
– With files from Tanya Beja