Hemivertebra Resection Surgery on Abnormally Shaped Vertebra

Hemivertebrae Resection

Hemivertebrae resection is a surgical procedure completed in some cases to correct and/or prevent complications related to congenital spinal curvatures.

Children who are born with abnormal spinal curvatures sometimes have vertebrae (backbones) that are known as hemivertebra. These vertebrae are shaped like a triangle, instead of like normal backbones, which are rectangular. Hemivertebrae can cause abnormal spinal curvatures like scoliosis.

Depending on where in the spine the abnormalities are located, hemivertebra resection may be needed to correct spinal curvatures and prevent complications due to spinal deformities. 

Evaluation of Hemivertebra

  • X-rays: These imaging studies can detect scoliosis but further studies are often needed to determine if hemivertebra resection is needed.
  • Computed Tomography: (CT) scans are often used to obtain three-dimensional views of spinal abnormalities such as hemivertebra.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging: MRIs are used to evaluate the status of the spinal cord and nerve roots when determining the need for hemivertebra resection.

  • Ultrasound: These studies are used to determine the need for hemivertebra resection before the vertebrae have hardened, usually before the age of three months, to check for spinal cord involvement without the need for sedation.

When is Hemivertebra Resection Needed?

When congenital scoliosis is diagnosed, it is difficult to determine the impact the deformity will have as the child grows. No one can predict the progression of spinal curves or if hemivertebra resection will be needed. It is more likely that hemivertebra resection will be needed if:

  • Spinal abnormalities are located in the thoracic, or mid-section of the spine
  • Spinal abnormalities are located on the same side of the spine

The spine grows most rapidly during the first five years of a child’s life, and again during puberty. These are the times when doctors may most closely monitor for the need for hemivertebrae resection surgery.   

Depending on your child's condition, hemivertebra resection may be indicated to prevent complications. This procedure involves removing the vertebrae that are misshapen and fusing together the bones that lie above and below those that were removed. Hemivertebra resection often involves using surgical instrumentation such as plates, rods, or screws to help support the spine and ensure the remaining vertebrae grow into one solid piece of bone.

Following hemivertebra resection, children are often required to wear a brace or need to wear a cast to hold the spine in place while healing takes place.

Hemivertebra resection surgery is usually successful in most cases to correct spinal curvatures, but there are some risks associated with the procedure, including excessive bleeding and nerve damage.

Image drawing of hemivertebra resection comparison of before and after surgery. Treatments, Hemivertebra Resection2-1