Background: Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis is a three-dimensional curvature of the spine of unknown cause that occurs in often otherwise fit young people. A complex surgical procedure is required for the most severe curves. Quantitative literature suggests scoliosis surgery improves patients' lives, while qualitative literature focuses on patients' concerns rather than their experience. Aims To explore how adolescents interpret their perioperative experience. Method Six participants, aged 15-18, were interviewed and transcripts were analysed. Findings Four themes were identified: shock, fears and worries; parental interaction; coping; and motivation and positivity. Conclusion Participants were reluctant to share concerns, however those they shared related more to fear of the unknown and lack of control than specific issues such as pain. Participants depended on their parents, especially their mothers, during the perioperative period, and they recognised their parents' stress. Participants coped well, were motivated and had a positive outlook.