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Brianna Moore: Repair of a Double-Curve Adolescent Scoliosis

Brianna Moore was diagnosed with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis at the age of 13 when her pulmonologist noted the partial curvature of her spine on an X-ray taken of her lungs for asthma-related issues.

“We saw a surgeon at the time, but it wasn’t causing too many problems. I was right on the edge of being eligible for surgery,” Moore says. “Bracing wasn’t an option because I had already matured.”

Moore started noticing more serious problems in her sophomore and junior years of high school. “I was active in sports and played bass clarinet, a heavy instrument,” she says. “As I got older, my scoliosis caused more health issues until it reached the point that I was in chronic pain every day, especially if I lifted heavy objects or stood too long at work or at home. I chose activities based on whether they were debilitating or if I could push through the pain.”

Eventually, she noticed that her hips and shoulders were off center. “I had such a drastic curve in my spine that my belly button piercing was noticeably tilted because of how unbalanced I had become,” she says. “When I was 21, I was at my wits’ end because of the pain I was in. I didn’t like to take pain medication unless I really had to, so I decided to find a good doctor.”

Moore found Dr. John Quinn in July 2021 through a work acquaintance, and by then her scoliosis had progressed to two curvatures. “I heard that he considered both surgical and nonsurgical treatment plans for scoliosis, which appealed to me,” she says. “But I wasn’t overweight and was very active working as a personal shopper, lifting upward of 50 pounds depending on what the customers wanted to buy, so physical therapy wouldn’t have done much for me. I made the appointment, and after viewing my x-rays and listening to my history, his recommendation was surgery.”

Quinn took Moore to the operating room in December 2021. “Brianna had a 52-degree curve in her lumbar and thoracic spine and a second 37-degree curve in her upper thoracic spine, with significant upper-trunk shift,” he says. “She had a lot of pain along the apex of the thoracolumbar curve. We fused the larger curve from T9 to L3 because it was flexible, with the goal of balancing her spine and chest over the pelvis and correcting her rib hump, waistline asymmetry, and back pain. Her curve diminished from 52 degrees to 9 degrees, a 43-degree curvature correction. We were able to limit the surgery to the lower curve and still balance the spine, avoiding a much more extensive surgery. With a smaller surgery, we preserve flexibility and recovery time is shorter.”

Moore was discharged after three days in the hospital, and after allowing time to heal, she completed 2 ½ months of physical therapy.

“Right after I got out of the hospital, I felt better,” she says. “About five days out from surgery I stopped all heavy medication and took ibuprofen. Even while I was still on the pain medications, I felt a different kind of pain in my back: it was the surgical sites instead of the back pain I’d gotten used to.”

Moore recovered well and is completing the last year of her bachelor’s degree in animal sciences at Sam Houston State University; she will apply to veterinary medicine schools in August. “Brianna was unique among my patients because she had adolescent scoliosis but was fully grown,” Quinn says. “Still, I was able to plan her surgery as I would plan for an adolescent because she had a flexible curve. With a longer fusion involving both curves, her risk for further curvature would be greater. As it is, her risk of progression is low.”

“Dr. Quinn helped me so much that I even suggested that my father see him when he had to have back surgery a few months ago,” she says. “He is such a great doctor and surgeon.”

Photo of Brianna Moore

Brianna Moore faced serious issues as a high-school athlete and musician because of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.