Scoliosis surgery is not medically necessary in the vast majority of cases.

Scoliosis is only life threatening if a child younger than five years old has severe spinal deformation. When the lungs are not fully developed, there is a rare possibility that scoliosis could cause the heart to stop (cor pulmonale). Most experts agree that after age five, only a scoliosis curve measuring more than 100 degrees would be dangerous to your child’s heart.

Yet, surgery is often prematurely recommended when a teenager’s scoliosis curve measures over 40 degrees. It also gets recommended before children are done growing—as young as age 14. Surgery may seem like the only option if a doctor says your child “needs it immediately,” and the doctor may say that spinal surgeries are much less invasive than they used to be, but all surgery is invasive—especially if it fuses a majority of the 24 vertebrae.