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Spinal surgery


Our Spinal Service sees more than 3000 patients a year and performs more than 100 procedures.

We accept referrals for any young person aged up to 16-years-old from all over the UK and Ireland and are part of the region’s paediatric major trauma centre. We provide a 24-hour spinal on call service for trauma and emergencies.

Our services include assessment and advice for back and neck pain with physiotherapy as required, through to the surgical treatment of complex spinal deformities such as scoliosis and kyphosis.

Specialist services

Sheffield is one of the national centres for Osteogenesis Imperfecta, and a highly specialised multidisciplinary team meets monthly to discuss and manage these patients, including the requirement for surgery. Surgical options at Sheffield Children’s NHS Trust include instrumented fusions and growing systems. These can include the use of magnetically lengthened Magec Rods™ (currently withheld by MHRA), the ‘Trolley’ system (under trial conditions), and the VEPTR™ device.

Sheffield is the leading UK centre for conservative scoliosis treatment, using some of the most advanced braces available. We use several different types of rigid, semi-rigid and flexible dynamic braces, dependant on diagnosis, age and severity of curvature. The surgical team in conjunction with our team of spinal specialist orthotists will advise the most suitable brace for each child.

Sheffield Children’s Hospital is also pioneering research into brace treatment for Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis and is the lead site for the BASIS study.

Further information on some of the braces used in Sheffield and the latest research can be found on the following websites:

In 2019 an EOS scanner was installed in the outpatient department allowing microdose imaging of the spine which significantly reduces the radiation a patient is exposed to every time they undergo a whole spine radiograph. This has long-term benefits to all our scoliosis patients.

In addition we are one of the few centres to offer Formetric 4D scanning as part of the assessment of children’s spinal conditions, enabling a real-time assessment of the shape of the whole body, without the use of ionising radiation.

Conditions we treat

  • Back pain
  • Kyphosis
    – Scheuermanns kyphosis
    – Congenital kyphosis
    – Syndromic kyphosis
  • Neck pain
  • Osteogenesis imperfecta
  • Osteoid osteoma
  • Sciatica
  • Scoliosis
    – Congenital scoliosis
    – Idiopathic scoliosis
    – Early onset scoliosis
    – Syndromic scoliosis
  • Spinal infection
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Spondylolysis

Spinal service team

The patient journey begins in outpatients where you will see one of our surgeons – Mr Lee Breakwell, Mr Ashley Cole, Mr Michael Athanassacopoulos, Miss Shreya Srinivas and Mr Edward Bayley– as well Spinal Nurse Specialists Caron Edmonds, Sarah Wright, Ellie Reid and Alice Hambling, plus Scanning Technician and Nursing Assistant Sarah Ashton.

Should surgery be needed, it will take place in our state-of-the-art, purpose-built spinal theatre which opened in July 2015 and is staffed by our dedicated spinal team led by Sister Michelle Lees and Senior Practitioner Jane Hammill.

The Surgical team is complemented by our dedicated anaesthetic team including Drs Rob John, Judith Morgan, Vanessa Hodgetts, Doug Johnson and Liz Allison.

Spinal surgery requires the use of intra-operative spinal cord monitoring to ensure the safety of the procedures. This service is led by Ian Scivill.

Inpatients are looked after on Ward 2 which was part of the refurbishment project in 2018. There is ample space for a parent to stay with their child during an inpatient stay.

The Nursing/Physiotherapy team based at the Sheffield Children’s Hospital are integral to the care which you will receive. They support patients throughout their spinal journey from initial referral through to discharge. The team also organise outpatient clinics and investigations, advocate during your inpatient stay to ensure you receive high quality care, and are always available to offer advice in the long-term post-operative period.

Together the Nursing/Physiotherapy team have a wealth of experience – 125 years! – in all aspects of spinal nursing/physiotherapy including clinic, orthopaedic, theatre and critical care areas. They liaise closely with other members of the multi-disciplinary team in order to provide optimum care and support regarding braces, rod lengthening procedures, pre-operative assessments etc.

Nurses also provide an outpatient clinic for post-operative patients six months after surgery, and our extended scope practitioner has clinics for both general referrals and eight weeks post-operative patients.

Admin support is provided by Liz Larmour and Jillian Kerfoot, the Spinal Secretaries, and Emily Barker and Ali Islam the Waiting List Co-ordinators.

Additional information

Once a young person passes their 16th birthday, their referrals are directed to Northern General Hospital (NGH). If you require ongoing care after the age of 16, having had your treatment started at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, a decision will be taken as to whether to transfer your care to NGH. In spinal surgery this is relatively straight forward because you can continue under the same consultant at NGH.

This webpage is not designed to give details on specific conditions, and we cannot give individual advice or take referrals through the website. Please speak to your General Practitioner (GP) if you have any concerns over your health.

However, you may find these websites useful:

Spine Surgeons – Patient Area

Spine Surgeons – Booklets

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