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Teen scoliosis spinal surgery for patient at Dayton Children's Hospital

Born in China with several congenital anomalies, including caudal regression OR sacral agenesis, a condition that affects how a child’s lower body develops in the womb, Talley Thomasson is no stranger to surgery. In fact, by the age of 10, she had already undergone 14 major surgeries.

That’s why when her family learned that her curve from her congenital scoliosis had progressed enough that it required surgery, her mom, Mandi, wanted to explore every viable option before jumping right back into surgery.

the search begins      

When Mandi started the search for a spine surgeon for Talley’s surgery, one of her major goals was to avoid an approach that would involve multiple surgeries. Talley had spent much of her childhood in and out of hospitals, so Mandi wanted to avoid another series of surgeries, if possible. But, after meeting with several local children’s hospitals and surgeons in their home state of Indiana and Ohio, Mandi began to worry that there would be no way to avoid several surgeries to treat Talley’s scoliosis.

“We sought out multiple opinions to determine the best option for Talley,” said Mandi. “But a lot of the spine surgeons we consulted with wanted to take a very traditional approach for Talley’s spine and do multiple surgeries over time. We knew we didn’t want this for Talley, so I continued my search.”

This all changed when Mandi took Talley to Dayton Children’s Hospital to meet with Michael Albert, MD, chief, division of pediatric orthopedics. Dr. Albert took time with Talley and her family to develop a plan for surgery that was unique to her.

“When we met with Dr. Albert, we finally didn’t feel like just a number or just another case,” said Mandi, “He was willing to think outside of the box to consider a surgery for Talley that would give her the quality of life we’ve been looking for. Once we saw his personalized approach for her surgery, which was medically sound and best for Talley’s overall health, we knew we’d choose Dayton Children’s for her care.”

spine surgery

Once Talley and her family decided to proceed with spine surgery, they were introduced to Jenna Kieffer, spine nurse navigator at Dayton Children’s. She served as the central point of contact for the family and was with them during all their pre-operative education appointments and on the day of surgery.

“Having a consistent point of contact at the hospital was incredible,” said Mandi. “We’ve never had that during any of our experiences at other hospitals. It made all the difference to see Jenna, who had become a familiar face for our family, the day of Talley’s surgery.”

The surgery approach that Dr. Albert outlined for Talley and her family involved a Shilla implant combined with a spinal fusion. There would be no need for multiple surgeries to correct her curve, Dr. Albert could do it in one.

“We treat every child, teenager and family that comes to us for care with a personal approach,” said Dr. Albert. “What works best for one child, may not be the best option for another, so we try to explore every option to deliver the best care for each individual child.”

The four-hour surgery involved a spinal fusion and placing a Shilla implant along Talley’s spine, which acted as a track system that will grow and expand as she matures. This approach allowed Talley to preserve her growth, something that was important to Talley because of her small stature.

Just three days later, she was heading home.











life after surgery

Since her spine surgery, it’s safe to say that Talley is thriving. Two years later, she has grown almost 5 inches and loves to sing karaoke and hang out with her friends.

“As a medical mom, I had always equated big hospitals with having the best services, but that’s not always the case,” said Mandi. “Dayton Children has access to world-class specialty care, but with a small hospital feel. It’s a very special place.”

providers that treat scoliosis and spinal conditions

the unique role helping spine patients at Dayton Children's

Few children’s hospitals see as many patients with scoliosis as the orthopedic center at Dayton Children’s. Our spine nurse navigator acts as the liaison throughout a patient's spine surgery journey.

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