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Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis: What Parents Should Know in Florida

Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS) is an extremely inconvenient condition that growing teens might face. Luckily, several effective treatments, such as spinal fusion and vertebral body tethering, have been developed to correct the spine curve before it starts causing further damage and inconvenience.

In this article, we will discuss which between the two procedures is the better treatment for your adolescent.

Spinal Fusion vs VBT: Which is Better for My Child?

For the longest time, spinal fusion surgery was the only effective treatment for correcting spine deformity. Other treatments like back brace, chiropractic medicine, and physical therapy were only recognized to prevent further progression of the curve. But as of August 2019, FDA has approved a device that can correct scoliosis on a growing child.

So which treatment is better for your child? Both treatment options are proven to be effective, but since VBT is a minimally invasive procedure, it provides more flexibility and fewer risks to the patient. However, since it’s a relatively new practice, only a handful of surgeons are equipped or experienced to perform this treatment.

Spinal Fusion

Spinal fusion is an extensive surgery that can correct the scoliosis curve which reaches at least 40 degrees on the Cobb angle. Since it is a major medical procedure, surgeons only recommend this treatment when an observation or back brace is not effective for the patient.

How it Works

As the name suggests, this procedure aims to correct the deformity by fusing some parts of the spine so that it won’t bend anymore.

During the surgery, the surgeon straightens the affected spine segments to correct the abnormal rotation and lateral curvature using rods. Bone grafts are then placed into the vertebrae so that it heals into a solid bone.


The success of a spinal fusion surgery will depend on the surgeon’s experience. The spine curve can be improved for up to 70% from the original deformity. Once the procedure is successful, you can trust that the fused bones are permanent.


Like most surgeries, spinal fusion can have the following risks:

  • Paraplegia
  • Excessive blood loss
  • Pseudoarthrosis
  • Infection
  • Instrumentation failure

Vertebral Body Tethering (VBT)

For spine curves that measure 30 to 65 degrees on the Cobb angle, this non-fusion spinal device can be used as treatment. It intends to correct the curve by guiding the spine growth with a tether.

How it Works

After the anesthesia has been administered, the surgeon will create a small incision on the side of the chest. Titanium screws will be installed on one side of the vertebrae to slow down its growth, allowing the other side to catch up. Then, a flexible cable will be placed to connect the screws. It will be pulled taut to help straighten the spine growth.


The downtime for this procedure is minimal compared to spinal fusion surgery. With the tether supporting healthy vertebral growth, the child’s spine is expected to develop straighter. However, since this is a relatively new treatment, long-term results are still yet to show.


Although it is a minimally invasive surgery, VBT can still pose the following risks:

  • Overcorrection
  • Pneumothorax
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Infection
  • Instrumentation failure

Choosing the Right Treatment

Pros Cons
Spinal Fusion Surgery It’s a known treatment that is both effective and permanent. Major surgery like spinal fusion should only be performed by accredited and experienced surgeons to minimize risks.
Vertebral Body Tethering It is minimally invasive and provides more flexibility to the patient. Since it is a new treatment, it might be difficult to find a surgeon who can perform it.

When it comes to choosing the right treatment for the patient, it’s important to consider their current lifestyle as well as the long-term outlook. Whatever treatment the surgeon prescribes, parents should support the patient every step of the way.

Explore Different Treatment Options at Scoliosis Associates

At Scoliosis Associates, we provide state of the art facilities and the latest technologies in scoliosis treatment. Our staff is also experienced in catering to the needs of adolescent patients, as parents would.

Learn more about the different treatment options we offer here at Scoliosis Associates by visiting our site now. You can also book a consultation now by calling 212-241-8947.