Saving Julie from Scoliosis

FRESNO, Calif.

At 39, Julie Flores enjoys the little things in life but it wasn't too long ago Julie's routine was a lot different.

"I just felt like it was painful, it was no fun," Julie told Action News.

It started with a head tilt at the age of five. By the time Julie turned eight, her upper body was bent almost in half. She was diagnosed with dystonia, a movement disorder that causes involuntary muscle spasms. By then severe scoliosis had set in too.

"I'll never forget one comment someone made of a high school boy who saw her and said 'oh look at that giraffe'," Lidia Flores, Julie's mother, told Action News.

By the time Julie hit 30, even house work caused unimaginable pain. Then, her mom found Dr. Frank Acosta.

"Hers was an extreme case where her spine was essentially shaped like an s," Frank Acosta, M.D., Director of Spinal Deformaty at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, explained.

"This is a pretty severe case, yeah, one of the worst i have ever seen," Dr. Acosta stated.

After two operations doctor Acosta placed screws down Julie's spine with help from computer navigation. The goal was to take some pressure off her lung, organs and nerves and realign her spine. After 9 weeks at the hospital and 4 months of physical therapy the operation was a success.

"I sat next to her and Julia was I think two inches taller than me," Lidia said.

"When I got up and I sat up, I was like wow," Julie said.

Julie can now stand up straight for the first time in 31 years.

"I feel like God gave me this whole brand new life again," Julie said.

Eventually bone will grow up and down Julie's spine over the rods that were surgically implanted. The years of compression caused some damage to her lungs but Julie is now almost pain-free.


Sandy Van
Media Relations
Cedars- Sinai Medical Center

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