Pioneering Treatment for Scoliosis


DANVILLE, Calif. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Surgeons have been correcting severe scoliosis for decades. They straightened the spine, but didn’t have the ability to correct the rotation, so a telltale rib hump still protruded after surgery. However, one doctor devised a way to address all of that in one operation without adding time or cost.

It’s family night out for Audrey Beaman. She can sit or stand without discomfort, after scoliosis surgery to correct a 62 percent curvature.

Beaman told Ivanhoe, “There was a lot of other stuff going on at that point, but feeling that immediate release was everything. It was amazing.”

Beaman wanted a straight spine, but not the rib hump, the bulge that often remains after surgery.

“I could see it in all the pictures we would take and I just felt like I was so different,” detailed Beaman.

Robert Rovner, M.D., an orthopedic spine surgeon in Danville, California, devised a way to fix the rotation. He puts two screws in each vertebrae and using extensions, straightens each bone into neutral until the whole spine is aligned and de-rotated, and then secures it all with rods.

“If you’re going to go through this operation, you’d like to at least fix the cosmetic part of it as well, and that’s never been ignored, but has never been allowed to be addressed as well as we can right now,” said Dr. Rovner. (Read Full Interview)

Beaman recently celebrated her “spine-versary,” one year since her procedure.

“I stand differently, I walk differently, and just seeing the way it looks makes a huge difference,” detailed Beaman.

Dr. Rovner is now working with two companies to improve the hardware for his technique. His hope is that other surgeons will be trained to use this procedure to get better outcomes for patients.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Wendy Chioji, Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; Rusty Reed, Videographer.



TOPIC:       Pioneering Treatment for Scoliosis

REPORT:   MB #4174


BACKGROUND: Scoliosis is not a disease, rather a term used to describe any abnormal, sideways curvature in the spine. Three different types of scoliosis can occur: levoscoliosis, in which the spine is shaped like a letter C; dextroscoliosis, where the spine is shaped like a backwards letter C; or, when the spine is shaped like a letter S.  Usually, scoliosis develops in early childhood before a child reaches puberty. Idiopathic scoliosis is the most common case of scoliosis (80 percent of all cases) and it has a strong female predilection (7:1). It is first diagnosed during school exams or during regular checkups with a pediatrician. Scoliosis can occur due to genetics, neuromuscular conditions, birth defects, and injuries of the spine. Normally, scoliosis tends to develop gradually and it is not painful; but, in severe cases, the spine may begin to twist causing back pain, the ribcage may appear uneven, and it can limit the lungs functions making it difficult to breathe.

TREATMENTS: Two factors are taken into account before deciding a treatment for scoliosis: the skeletal maturity of the patient (how much more growth can be expected), and the degree of the spinal curvature. Depending on these factors, three different treatments can be offered: observation, back braces or surgery. Scoliosis surgery becomes the only option when the spine curve is greater than 40 degrees. According to each case, the surgeon may suggest an operation on the back of the spine, on the front of the spine or both. The overall goal is to first straighten the spine and then fuse the vertebrae together into one larger bone. Nevertheless, a rib hump can occur in patients that suffer from this. Scoliosis causes the chest to twist, which creates a hump on the back as the ribs on one side stick out further when bending. This abnormality can be difficult to correct with surgery.

NEW TECHNOLOGY: Most conventional surgeries for scoliosis address the curvature of the spine but will only slightly correct the rotation of this one; this rotation often leaves patients with a rib hump.  In 2010, Dr. Robert Rovner of Danville, CA developed a new surgical technique and hardware for the improved correction of this rotational component of scoliosis. This improved surgical technique has been used successfully on dozens of adolescent and adult scoliosis patients since then.


Disc & Spine


If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at

Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Robert Rovner, M.D.

Read the entire Q&A