Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is a leader in pediatric spine care. More kids, teens and young adults come to us for spinal fusion surgery than any other pediatric hospital in the country.* Not only do we rank among the best pediatric hospitals in the country for orthopedics, but we are also the only nationally ranked pediatric orthopedics program in Georgia.**
When it comes to your child’s spine surgery, experience and outcomes matter.
Children’s performs more spinal fusion surgeries than any other hospital dedicated to treating kids and teens, with some of the best spine surgery results in the nation. We are passionately dedicated to making sure your child has the best possible outcomes.LEARN MORE
The spine withstands a lot of stress each day, making it a common site for an overuse injury, especially in growing children. Our team of pediatric spine specialists at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta understands how the spine can change as your child or teen grows or if your child or teen is injured.
Spine problems in children can present at birth (known as congenital spine problems), develop over time as your child or teen grows, or be caused by an injury, such as a muscle strain from physical activity or improper weight lifting. Curvature of the spine (scoliosis) can occur in otherwise healthy children for no apparent reason, although the tendency can run in the family. Heavy backpacks can also be a source of back pain, as suggested weight limits are no more than 15% of a child’s or teen’s body weight.
If an issue arises or back pain continues in your child or teen, we recommend treatment by someone who is specially trained in caring for the pediatric spine. At Children’s, our experts help care for, diagnose and treat spine problems in children of all ages, from birth to 21.
Our spine specialists treats thousands of growing spines each year, so we understand what symptoms to look for and how to diagnose babies, kids and teens.
We work closely with other pediatric specialists to review diagnostic tests that may include:
- A thorough medical history and physical examination
- Routine radiographs with low-dose imaging, such as X-rays
- An MRI
- A low-dose CT scan
- An ultrasound or a bone scan
Our pediatric radiologists receive advanced training, as well as following guidelines and protocols like dose-reducing technology that allows us to cut CT and X-ray radiation exposure by more than 50% compared to adult facilities.
Our spine team is specially trained to develop treatment plans for children and teens of all ages and to monitor patients over time so they have better results as they continue growing.
Treatment options for pediatric spine conditions and injuries may include:
- Casting or bracing (orthotics)
- Pain management
- Physical therapy and sports physical therapy
- Spinal rest (your child may need to stop some activities while healing)
- Spine surgery
Spine bracing is used to help prevent curves in the spine from getting larger as your child grows. Generally, curves less than 20 degrees don’t require treatment, since most do not worsen, but children whose curve is larger than 20 degrees are candidates for either part-time bracing (approximately 16 hours a day) or night bracing. Braces do not make curves go away but may prevent the curve in your child’s spine from worsening.
For some children, bracing may not be the best treatment. This may be because of the spine’s curve type, spine stiffness, the spine’s remaining growth, other medical problems or previous surgeries. These are each considered to help our specialists determine which treatment is best for your child’s spine.
Our team is very experienced in a variety of advanced bracing techniques
Our orthotics and prosthetics team uses some of the latest in casting and bracing techniques. We fit more than 600 spinal devices for our patients each year.Learn More
Serial casting is a special technique that does not require an incision but does require anesthesia to apply a casting technique called “elongation, derotation, flexion” (EDF) is used to slowly reduce the size of the curve in your child’s spine over several months. This is usually an outpatient procedure. EDF casting can result in complete correction of the curve, or at least allow for bracing of a smaller curve. This procedure is typically reserved for preadolescent children under 10 years old.
If your child, teen or young adult needs surgery, our doctors are on the forefront of spine surgery innovations. We treat more spine patients than any other program in the country. Our dedicated surgical team sets the standard for quality and safety in pediatric spine surgery. To coordinate care, we utilize clinical practice guidelines that dictate a high standard of care and help our patients get back to being kids more quickly. Our surgical team includes surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and operating room techs, each with a dedicated role to safeguarding the patient journey.
Children’s has some of the best spine surgery results in the nation. Our team continuously refines the surgical processes, including before, during and after surgery. Compared to other pediatric hospitals, our patients:
- Are in great company: Children’s performs more spine surgeries than any other pediatric hospital in the U.S.*
- Recover more quickly: Our team works diligently to help make sure patients can go home as soon as possible after surgery. In fact, Children’s has a shorter average length of stay for spine procedures than most children’s hospitals in the country.*
- Experience fewer complications: Children’s spine patients report fewer problems following surgery and fewer emergency department visits while recovering from surgery.*
What types of spine surgery are there?
The type of spine surgery recommended for your child or teen depends on several things, including your child’s or teen’s unique condition, previous treatments and whether he or she has a lot of growth still remaining. Larger curves (greater than 40 degrees) in younger children can be challenging to manage.
We want our patients and families to have the best possible experience during their spine surgery journey.
Our dedicated concierge team includes a spine program manager who helps coordinate a patient’s experience by providing complete follow-up care and helping make sure families have the information and resources they need before, during and after care. The spine program manager also serves as a single point of contact for your child and his or her primary care provider.
The spine program manager will help coordinate care by:
- Providing information about lodging and key contacts for those who live outside metro Atlanta.
- Arranging travel accommodations to Atlanta and transportation while in Atlanta.
- Helping families navigate the hospitals and escorting them as needed.
- Assisting with the hospital intake process and clinic visits.
- Writing treatment plans for your child’s or teen’s referring provider.
- Assisting in arranging the use of durable medical equipment after your child or teen is released from the hospital.
- Coordinating interpretation services.
- Coordinating financial planning with insurance companies.
- Following up with you after your child’s or teen’s procedure or visit.
- Communicating and coordinating requests for your child’s or teen’s referring provider.
Contact concierge services at 404-785-7575.
Members of the Children’s Orthopedics Program collaborate on patient care. We work closely with specialists from across the country and around the world to help establish best practices for pediatric spine care, and we are on the forefront of advanced technologies. Doctors in our Scoliosis and Spine Program also collaborate with neurosurgeons, anesthesiologists, physiatrists and other specially-trained physicians to care for kids, teens and young adults with complex neurological spine disorders, like certain types of scoliosis. Our Orthopedics Program and Neurology and Neurosurgery Program are both nationally ranked, combining experience and specialized training from two of the top programs in the Southeast to treat chronic back and neck pain, herniated discs, spinal cord tumors and degeneration and other conditions in patients from 0 to 21 years old.
Children’s Physician Group–Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine
1181 Langford Drive, Building 200, Suite 101
Watkinsville, GA 30677
2914 Vinson Court
Buford, GA 30518
Center for Advanced Pediatrics
1400 Tullie Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30329
Children’s at Cherokee
1558 Riverstone Parkway, Suite 100
Canton, GA 30114
Children’s at Duluth
2270 Duluth Highway 120
Duluth, GA 30097-4010
Children’s at Fayette
1265 Highway 54 W, Suite 200
Fayetteville, GA 30214-4526
Children’s at Forsyth
410 Peachtree Parkway, The Collection at Forsyth
Cumming, GA 30041-7407
Children’s at Hamilton Mill–Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine
2069 Teron Trace
Dacula, GA 30019
Children’s at Hudson Bridge–Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine
1492 Hudson Bridge Road
Stockbridge, GA 30281
Children’s at Meridian Mark
5445 Meridian Mark Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30342-4755
Children’s at Old Milton Parkway
3300 Old Milton Parkway
Alpharetta, GA 30005
Children’s at Town Center Outpatient Care Center
605 Big Shanty Road NW
Kennesaw, GA 30144-3646
4660 Riverside Park Blvd.
Macon, GA 31210
Villa Rica Orthopaedics
705 Dallas Highway, Suite 301
Villa Rica, GA 30180
* Pediatric Health Information System (2019), as prepared by the Children’s Hospital Association. This report compares clinical data annually for more than 52 pediatric hospitals in the U.S.
** No. 10 on the U.S. News & World Report “Best Children’s Hospitals” list for 2021-22.
This content is general information and is not specific medical advice. Always consult with a doctor or healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about the health of a child. In case of an urgent concern or emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department right away. Some physicians and affiliated healthcare professionals on the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta team are independent providers and are not our employees.