Life Changing Neuromuscular Scoliosis Surgery

Doctor with patient in spinal traction

Noelle and Dr. Roye visit during her post-operative recovery.

For Noelle, Dr. Benjamin Roye is more than just her surgeon, he is one of her hero’s. “I have had scoliosis caused by spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a neuromuscular disease, since the age of 4 and it worsened over the years. I always knew one day I would need to have this spine surgery to live a better life, but doctors didn’t feel comfortable operating on me. I had lost all hope until Dr. Roye came into my life and changed everything,” said Noelle.

After being turned away by multiple doctors, Noelle met Dr. Benjamin Roye, a Pediatric Orthopedic Spine Surgeon with NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Noelle’s severely curved spine caused difficulty breathing, eating, sitting upright, and doing the things she loves. According to Noelle, “it wasn’t even a question of if he would treat me. He said ‘I want you to be happy and live a great life.’ I felt so confident for the first time, he always comforted me and made me feel so safe, and I had never had that with a doctor. It changed my life.”

pre and post-operative x-trays showing spinal instrumentation and fusion to correct neuromuscular scoliosis

Post-operative x-rays (below) show how spinal instrumentation and fusion was used to correct the extreme curvatures present before surgery (above). The before and after images on the left show Noelle's spine from the front, and while the images on the right show her spine from a side view.

Dr. Roye performed a successful 10-hour spinal fusion surgery that helped to straighten and stabilize Noelle’s spine. After the surgery, Noelle says “day by day things got easier from a physical standpoint, and for the first time, I saw how long my torso was, which was almost six inches longer! It was just amazing and surreal.”

Before and after photograph.

Noelle before (left) and after (right) her surgery. In addition to improving her comfort and quality of life, the surgery gave her newfound confidence. 

After surgery, Noelle discovered new things she could do on a daily basis. “I am breathing and eating better now, and it makes the little things I love so much easier – like doing my make-up and wearing a lot of different clothes I couldn’t before. From a physical standpoint, my shoulders have come down, I am not hunched over, and I am sitting straighter. From a mental standpoint, I feel so much more confident, I was very insecure before.” said Noelle. “It is really emotional when I think of where we were and where we are now – I couldn’t be going to college without him, or even sitting up and breathing without Dr. Roye."