First scoliosis surgery performed at SSMC completed in record time, after extensive planning with multidisciplinary team

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.5September 2021:  

Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC), one of the UAE’s largest hospitals for serious and complex care and a joint-venture partnership between Mayo Clinic and Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA),has safelycompleted the hospital’s firstand successful complex thoracolumbar scoliosis deformity correction on a 16-year-old female patient, Hoor Abu Baker Youssef Elnayed.

Scoliosis surgery is typically performed at much larger centres due to its extremely complex nature. SSMC is the first health care centrein Abu Dhabi island to conduct the complex surgery, making it one of only three facilities in the UAEperforming the procedure.

The surgery was led byDr. Charbel Daoud Moussallem, a seasoned orthopedics and spine surgeon at SSMC with extensive experience in the region and in the US having completed a Spine Surgery Fellowship at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota,with the assistance of SSMC Orthopedics SpecialistDr. Mahmoud Al Cheikh Ahmad. The Orthopedics team safelyperformedthe procedure at SSMCin only three hours, achieving anatomical correction using neuromonitoring with minimal blood loss.

Dr. Moussallem said: “The team had undergone an extensive two-week period of pre-operative planning which – after conducting a mock surgery and doing consultations with a multidisciplinary team –we had factored inthree hours of surgical time.Decreasing surgical time meant that the patient was healthy; it alsomeans less blood loss and less risk of paralysis. We were very pleased with the outcome.”

The extent of the surgery was significant. The team conducted T2 surgery, just below the patient’s cervical spine to the lumbar spine, which corrected 100% of her spine. This means that the team managed to achieve normal alignment, whichresulted in a completely straight back. The patient was encouraged to walk the next day andrequired a few days in the hospital for recovery. After that,the surgical sutures were removed approximately three weeks post-surgery. The patient resumesher daily routine three to six weeks after the procedure, including physical activities except for contact sports.

“It is imperative to address scoliosis issues, especially at a younger age,” continues Dr. Moussallem. “In complex or severe cases, scoliosis surgery becomes extremely complicated once patients start entering their twenties. Until a patient gets surgery, they alsotypically suffer from pain and severe self-esteem issues because of the aesthetic effect of scoliosis on the body. A serious health issue caused by scoliosisthat can lead to death is the progressive loss of their respiratory status due to the distortion of the chest wall, the ribs and the rotation of the dorsal spine, which impacts their lung capacity and causes their respiratory status to go into decline year after year.”

There is no proven or direct cause for scoliosis, but multiple factors might cause the development of the condition. These are typically divided into four sub-categories: congenital, meaning that a patient was born with the condition; idiopathic, where degeneration happens spontaneously over time; degenerative, wherescoliosis develops due to old age and osteoarthritis; or neuromuscular, which, for example,can develop in someone with cerebral palsy. The patient operated on at SSMC was an idiopathic case.

Hoor said: “Discovering my scoliosis was a very daunting experience, but I was so relieved after my procedure was completed and my pain continues to lessen with each day. My condition had made me feel self-conscious and now I can have more confidence going out into the world. I trusted Dr. Mousallem and Dr. al Cheikh Ahmad because they were with meinevery step of the way, being supportive and positive, and made me feel reassured because of theirexpertise and theirlevel of prepareness. I’m very grateful.”

Dr. Mousallem concluded: “The successful completion of this extensive procedure was only possible due to a well-coordinated, multidisciplinary approach. This involved the Operating Room team that supported the pre-operative planning for the procedure, the Anaesthesia team which ensured complex muscle relaxation and reversal at different times during the surgery with tight blood pressure control and adequate spinal cord perfusion;along with the Radiology team for x-ray control. The patient has successfully come through the process and is back to living her daily life.”


About Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC)

Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC) is a joint venture between Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA), the UAE’s largest healthcare network, and Mayo Clinic, a non-profit global leader in medical care, education and research headquartered in the United States of America. Established in 2019, SSMC is the largest tertiary hospital in the UAE and serves to elevate the provision of healthcare services in the nation under the mandate of the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030.

 Supported by the latest diagnostic and treatment modalities available, SSMC offers care in 24 specialties. A team of locally and internationally trained physicians and allied health staff work seamlessly together, which promotes comprehensive interdisciplinary learning, allowing SSMC to become a leading hub for integrated patient-centric medical services in the region.

 As the region’s leading tertiary facility, SSMC has 742 patient beds, 18 operating theatres and includes a hybrid operating room, 26 neonatal intensive care units and the UAE’s largest pathology lab.

For more information on Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City or to book an appointment, visit

About SEHA

The Abu Dhabi Health Services Company PJSC–SEHA – is an independent, public joint stock company created to develop the curative activities of the public healthcare system in Abu Dhabi. The company owns and operates all the public hospitals and clinics of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

SEHA is part of ADQ, one of the region’s largest holding companies with a broad portfolio of major enterprises spanning key sectors of Abu Dhabi’s diversified economy.

SEHA is committed to continuous improvement of customer care to recognized international standards and providing the community with world-class healthcare. SEHA operates 13 hospitals with 3,385 beds, 70 ambulatory care, family care and urgent care centers and 2 blood banks. Its facilities accommodate 117,162 inpatients annually and conduct 43,262 surgeries, as well as treating more than five million outpatients. SEHA is one of the largest integrated healthcare providers in the Middle East with more than 18,000 doctors, nurses, ancillary care, and administrative personnel. Learn more at

About Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization committed to innovation in clinical practice, education and research, and providing compassion, expertise and answers to everyone who needs healing. Visit the Mayo Clinic News Network for additional Mayo Clinic news and Mayo Clinic Facts for more information about Mayo

For media inquiries, please contact:

Salma Chalak  

Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City  

Tel: +971 (0) 58 982 9525   


Fadya Al Kathairi  

Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City  

Tel: +971 (0) 50 332 4933   


Wissam Ishtay


Tel: +971 (0) 56 547 4910   


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