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Spine Program

Contact number | 202-476-2112
Orthopaedic surgeon and male patient walking in hallway

First of Its Kind Surgical Home

Experts at Children’s National created the Spinal Fusion Surgical Home, the first of its kind, to improve recovery for idiopathic scoliosis patients who have posterior spinal fusion surgery.

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At Children’s National, we use advanced treatments to care for children with spinal deformities such as scoliosis. Our goal is to restore the health of your child’s spine using the most effective, least invasive treatments possible. From pioneering surgical spine programs to the latest casting techniques, we deliver the best available care.

Spine Program at Children’s National: Why Choose Us?

When there’s a problem with your child’s spine, we know you may be worried. We’re here to help minimize children’s pain and improve their chance for normal spinal function. Our pediatric spine experts use innovative surgical procedures and personalized rehab programs to treat the full range of spinal deformities.

Highlights of our program include:

  • Pioneering spinal fusion program: With our Spinal Fusion Surgical Home, we’re offering a new approach to delivering safe, effective and family-centered surgical care. We seamlessly coordinate care for children undergoing spine-straightening surgeries such as posterior spinal fusion.
  • Pediatric expertise: We treat all forms of pediatric spinal deformity, using the latest techniques and devices. Our extended team also includes dedicated physician assistants and advanced practice nurses who specialize in orthopaedics, as well as physical therapists. Meet the team.
  • High volume surgical center: While our first approach is always to explore non-surgical options, sometimes surgery is necessary. When it is, your child is in the hands of highly trained surgeons here at Children’s National. Our specialists perform more spine surgeries than any other program in the Washington, DC area. We performed more than 145 surgeries in 2015 alone. This level of experience helps our patients achieve the best possible outcomes.
  • Innovative treatments: We use innovative treatments, such as the MAGEC™ Growing Rod, to optimize our patients’ spinal anatomy and functioning. If your child has a severe spinal curve, our Scoliosis Traction Program offers preoperative halo gravity traction that can help gradually straighten your child's spine over time and decrease the size of their spinal curve prior to surgery.

    Spine Conditions We Treat

    Many of the children we treat have scoliosis, which is an abnormal (sideways) curving of the spine.

    Types of scoliosis we treat:

    There are many types of scoliosis, including:

    • Idiopathic scoliosis, which develops for no known reason
    • Neuromuscular scoliosis, which can occur as a complication of conditions affecting the brain, spinal cord and muscular system
    • Syndromic scoliosis, which occurs in children with syndromic diseases, such as Marfan syndrome and brittle bone disease (osteogenesis imperfecta)
    • Early onset scoliosis, which occurs in children younger than age 10
    • Infantile scoliosis, which occurs in children younger than age 3

    Other conditions we treat include:

    • Congenital spine deformities
    • Injuries to spinal bones and ligaments due to trauma
    • Abnormal rounding in the upper back (kyphosis)
    • Stress fractures in the lower back (spondylolysis)
    • Spondylolisthesis, which occurs when one bone (vertebra) slips forward relative to the bone below
    • Spinal tumors

    We partner with pediatric experts and departments from across Children’s National Hospital to deliver comprehensive care for complex spinal conditions.

    Pediatric Spine Surgery Research

    At Children’s National, our doctors are advancing spinal deform treatment in children with ground breaking research. We are also actively researching other surgical improvements for our spine patients through the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Surgical Innovation.

    • Our experts are members of the Scoliosis Research Society. This group of more than 1,000 of the world's leading spine surgeons and researchers is dedicated to improving care for spinal deformities.
    • As part of the Growing Spine Study Group, Children’s National is one of 25 hospitals around the globe working to improve care for early onset scoliosis and related deformities.

    Other research interests include:

    • Testing new spinal implants and improving the way we use existing devices
    • Making bone cutting (osteotomy) procedures more effective in young children
    • Optimizing clinical outcomes for surgical patients
    • Helping children and their families prepare for spine surgeries

    Contact Us

    For more information or to make an appointment, call us at 202-476-2112.

    Spine Program Team

    • Matthew Oetgen

      Matthew Oetgen
      Division Chief, Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine
      Spine, Hip and Orthopaedic Trauma Specialist

    • Shannon McClure-Kelly

      Shannon Kelly
      Associate Chief, Division of Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine
      Spine, Cerebral Palsy and Orthopaedic Trauma Specialist

    • Ben Martin

      Benjamin Martin
      Associate Chief, Division of Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine
      Spine, Hip and Orthopaedic Trauma Specialist

    • Laurel Blakemore, M.D.

      Laurel Blakemore
      Chief Executive Officer, Pediatric Specialists of Virginia
      Orthopaedic Surgeon

    • Nancy Zonarich

      Nancy Zonarich
      Physician Assistant
      General Pediatric Orthopaedics, Bone Tumors, Cerebral Palsy, Spine Specialist

    • Children's National Hospital

      Anna Jacobson
      Nurse Practitioner, Orthopaedic Inpatient Care