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Dolores Grandizio: Scoliosis

Dolores wears a black v-neck shirt. She has white hair. Her make-up is done nicely and she wears eyeshadow and lipstick. Her hair is short and curly.

The Challenge

Dolores Grandizio loves to dance, swim, go on long hikes through the mountains, and do just about anything that involves being active. She maintained this lifestyle despite having daily severe back pain caused from a fall more than a decade ago.

“I love being able to go dancing or gardening and not have the pain I used to have. It’s incredible." — Dolores

Throughout the years, the pain progressed and her spine degenerated, causing scoliosis – a condition in which the spine curves abnormally to the side rather than being straight. As a result, Dolores struggled to do even the simplest of things, such as walking and tying her shoes. At age 82, she realized that if she did not receive treatment soon, she would never again be able do any of the activities that she loved.

The Path to UPMC

Dolores visited her primary care physician to seek answers for her debilitating back pain. Her doctor ordered an x-ray that confirmed a severe curve in her lower back. He advised her to have surgery and recommended that she speak with the experts at UPMC to learn more about the available treatment options for scoliosis. After consulting with spine surgeons at UPMC and doing her own research, Dolores decided to have the surgery at UPMC and was scheduled immediately.

“I knew I was in the right hands as soon as I spoke to the doctor,” said Dolores. “He seemed so confident and ensured me that he would do his best to make sure I could get back to what I love doing.”

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The Solution

To correct the curve in Dolores’ spine, the surgeons utilized the minimally invasive XLIF® procedure, or eXtreme lateral interbody fusion. During the procedure, the surgeons accessed Dolores’ spine from the side of her body (instead of from the front or back) and replaced the damaged areas with height-restoring cages and biological agents. This approach causes far less damage to muscles and internal organs and reduces complications associated with other procedures that have traditionally been used to treat scoliosis. Screws and rods were then placed to finalize the correction and fortify the structure and alignment of her spine.

The Results

Dolores was able to return home only a few days following her surgery, and almost immediately, her back pain that she knew for years was gone. With minimal rehabilitation, Dolores was quickly able to resume most of her daily activities. She even indulged in a much-needed vacation.

“One month after my surgery, I went to Disney World with my husband and some of our extended family. I wasn’t able to ride any rides, but I was in much less pain and had a great time.”

One year later, Dolores is “pain free” and back to doing what she loves – being active.

“I can’t thank the doctors enough for doing what they did,” she says. “I love being able to go dancing or gardening and not have the pain I used to have. It’s incredible.”

Our patient stories profile a number of patients who have had surgery at UPMC. Although everyone’s care experience is unique, we hope that sharing these stories will help other prospective patients and their families better understand these procedures and their potential benefits.

Dolores' treatment and results may not be representative of all similar cases.

Read More Spine Stories