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Cardiff teen goes to Germany for scoliosis surgery on spine

From BBC - April 5, 2018

A teenage runner and gymnast will travel to Germany on Saturday for ground breaking spinal surgery which is not yet available on the NHS.

Erin Morgan-Ring, 14, from Heath, in Cardiff, has been diagnosed with scoliosis, which means her spine twists and curves to the side.

She is the third Welsh child to travel abroad for the operation in a year.

The Welsh Government said NICE would assess any new evidence that supports introducing it on the NHS.

Meanwhile, all three Welsh families have had to raise thousands of pounds to pay for the treatment.

The most common surgery available in the UK, known as full fusion surgery, sees metal screws attached to the vertebrae which are then connected to rods to try to correct the curve.

Erin's mother, Ceri Morgan, said her daughter would be forced to give up competitive sport if she opted for the NHS procedure, as experts concede it can leave patients with a more limited range of movement.

The family found out a new operation called Vertebral Body Tethering (VBT) was being offered by surgeons in the US and Germany - which uses screws and cord to correct the spinal curvature.

Experts say the keyhole surgery is less invasive and patients retain greater mobility.

The procedure has only been around for 10 years and is limited to teenagers and young people.

About 1,000 patients have been operated on during that time, but it is not approved by the NHS.

Ms Morgan said she noticed something was not quite right with Erin's spine during a holiday in 2016.

"She was in a bikini and I just noticed that she was not standing straight, when we came back we went straight to the doctor and were referred," she said.

Doctors diagnosed scoliosis after seeing X-rays of Erin's spine.

Full fusion surgery was offered by the NHS, but Ms Morgan heard about VBT which it is hoped will allow Erin to return to gymnastics, running and riding.

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