Stem Cells For Scoliosis

9/10/2008 MESA, Ariz. At age 14, Matthew Barmore is already six-foot-one with a passion for basketball. But just a few months ago, Matthew's doctor saw a problem -- a nearly 50 degree curvature in his spine. The diagnosis: scoliosis.

"Before surgery, the lump in his back caused by the spine curvature was about the span of both my hands together," Matthew's mother, Rebecca Barmore, told Ivanhoe.

"If the curve progresses, it can have profound affects on heart and lung function," Mark A. Flood, D.O., an orthopaedic spine surgeon at Banner Desert Hospital in Mesa, Ariz., told Ivanhoe.

Surgery to correct scoliosis used to mean cutting a large piece of bone from the iliac crest in the pelvis, then using it to create a spinal fusion so the curve didn't get worse.

"The problem with taking bone from the iliac crest is it's a significant source of pain sometimes even permanent pain," Dr. Flood said. "It requires another incision, potential risk of infection, and that bone is gone forever."

But Matthew was able to take advantage of a brand new therapy -- recently cleared by the FDA -- to repair his spine using stem cells harvested from his own bone marrow.

Used with bone from the Bone Bank, Matthew's stem cells would act as a sort of catalyst to support the growth of new bone along the spine and work with permanent screws and rods to fuse it into the correct position. The surgery reduced Matthew's curvature from nearly 50 degrees to just 15 degrees.

Just three months after surgery, Matthew's already playing one-on-one with twin brother Jordan, getting stronger every day.

"I'm able to shoot, dribble, run and jump," Matthew told Ivanhoe. "If this is any indication of what's going to happen I think it will just get better."

And now, Matthew's dreaming of a very big future.

"What else? The NBA!" Matthew said.

Scoliosis is much more common girls than boys. Ideopathic scoliosis -- scoliosis of unknown cause -- is the most common type, usually occurring after age 10. Only some cases require surgery.

Center for Spinal Disorders and Pediatric Orthopedics
(480) 464-9400

Banner Health


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