There are a few available procedures when it comes to correcting the curved spine caused by scoliosis, such as brace and spinal fusion surgery. But these treatments limit movement, which brings bad news to adolescent patients. The good news is that a newly introduced treatment – called Vertebral Body Tethering – doesn’t limit your mobility like other procedures.
In this article, we will tell you all about Vertebral Body Tethering and how it treats scoliosis through growth modulation.
What is Vertebral Body Tethering?
Vertebral Body Tethering is a minimally invasive surgery that aims to straighten your spine and assist its healthy growth. It doesn’t involve spine fusion, so your mobility won’t be limited after the surgery. You can continue with your daily activities without much trouble after the surgery.
This procedure has been recently approved by the FDA to treat idiopathic scoliosis among adolescents. It works best on children aged 10-16.
How Does it Work?
Vertebral Body Tethering operates by following the principles of Hueter-Volkmann Law. Simply put, this rule suggests two things: (1) mechanical forces are responsible for the vertical growth of the spine, and (2) compressive forces prevent the spine from growing normally.
During VBT, bone screws, anchors, and a cord is placed on one side of the spine curve. The tension from the cord straightens the patient’s spine. As the patient grows, the treated spine healthily develops straighter.
Am I Qualified for VBT?
Unfortunately, not everyone can undergo vertebral body tethering because it requires the patient’s spine to be flexible. To qualify for the VBT treatment, you must:
- Be diagnosed with Idiopathic Scoliosis
- Be at least 10 years old
- Have a spinal curve of 35 to 70-degree angle
- Have a skeletal maturity of 0-2 on the Risser Scale
What are the Alternatives for VBT?
In case you don’t meet the patient qualification for vertebral body tethering, your surgeon will present you with other alternatives that are fit for your condition. It can be either of the following:
Bracing works best for patients that have spine curves that are between 25 to 40-degree angles. This treatment does not correct the curvature but prevents it from worsening instead. However, there are cases when slight curve progression still occurs. Surgeons assured that surgical treatment still isn’t necessary unless the curve reaches a 45-degree angle.
Braces come in either full-time or nighttime types. There are insufficient studies on which type works best in preventing spine curve progression, but many patients opt for the latter because of its simple protocol.
Spinal Fusion Surgery
For patients that have spine curves measuring at least a 45-degree angle, spine fusion is the better treatment option. This procedure treats scoliosis in two ways: by preventing curve progression and by correcting the curve into a straighter shape.
During spinal surgery, the doctor removes the damaged discs in your spine. They install bone grafts in the gaps where the damaged discs once were. They also utilize rods, screws, and hooks so that your spine can realign properly.
Find the Best Spine Surgeons at Scoliosis Associates
What to find out if VBT is the right treatment for you? Consult our surgeons at Scoliosis Associates now. Our team of spine specialists are experienced in treating scoliosis and other spine deformities of adolescent and adult patients.