Vertebral body tethering is a new procedure introduced by the FDA to treat adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Unlike spinal fusion, this minimally invasive surgery doesn’t limit spine mobility. It utilizes a strong cord on one side of the spine to allow the other side to grow healthily. In this article, we will explain the VBT procedure in full detail.
Treating Adolescent Scoliosis with Vertebral Body Tethering
Adolescent scoliosis is a spine condition that affects about 4 in 100 teens. Most of the time, this condition only causes minor inconveniences to the patient, but if the spine curve is severe, surgery might be needed. Patients opt for a more permanent treatment like spinal fusion, but the problem with this procedure is that it limits spine mobility.
That’s why a minimally invasive treatment called Vertebral Body Tethering is introduced. VBT prevents the curve from worsening and it modulates the growth of the spine. With a cord attached to one side, the spinal curve is corrected as it develops.
What to Expect with Vertebral Body Tethering?
To understand the treatment better, here is a detailed breakdown of how the procedure is performed:
Before the Surgery
Before the surgery is performed, you must undergo different tests to ensure that the treatment is safe for you. These standard tests include:
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – to ensure that the cause of scoliosis is idiopathic
- Pulmonary Function Test – to check if your lungs are healthy
- Blood Tests
- Bending and Standing X-Rays
- Anesthesiology Tests
Your surgeon will deem you fit to undergo VBT according to two criteria: the degree of spinal curve and the skeletal maturity.
During the Surgery
The surgery is performed by two surgeons – an orthopedic and a thoracic surgeon – in the operating room. A general surgeon can also be present during the surgery, but a spine surgeon would have more experience in handling your case because they specialized in scoliosis treatments.
After the general anesthesia has taken effect on the patient, the surgeons will create small incisions on the side of the chest. With the help of a fiber-optic video camera, they will install the titanium screws on the convex side of the spine curve. These screws will be connected using the tether – a flexible cable that will pull the spine straighter as it develops. The surgery is completed in around four to six hours.
After the Surgery
Your surgeon will need to run X-ray tests to monitor the changes in the spine curve, as well as the health of your lungs after the surgery. With the doctor’s go signal, you can return home after two to three days. They will also schedule physical therapy appointments around two weeks after the procedure to check your range of motion.
Schedule Vertebral Body Tethering Treatment with Scoliosis Associates
For expert care and treatment, consult with our specialists at Scoliosis Associates. Our team of doctors specialize in spine treatment, so you are guaranteed to receive the best care as you undergo Vertebral Body Tethering.