Vertebral Body Tethering (or VBT) is a new treatment for patients diagnosed with Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis. It has been recognized by the FDA as an effective procedure to correct the spine curve of patients who are still growing.
In this article, we will discuss what happens before, during, and after a vertebral body tethering surgery.
Vertebral Body Tethering as Corrective Treatment for AIS
Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS) affects around 3% of children in the US. It is the most common type of spinal abnormality that causes the vertebrae to develop in a curved position. Although it only causes minor inconveniences to the patient, immediate treatment is still recommended to stop the curve from progressing.
Most procedures for treating AIS, such as bracing and spinal fusion surgery, limit the movement of the patient. But with VBT, the corrective device allows the patient to be more flexible and move freely.
A Breakdown of the VBT Procedure
To fully understand how Vertebral Body Tethering works in correcting the spinal curve, here is a breakdown of the entire procedure:
Preparing for the Surgery
Upon the consultation with the physician, they will confirm the cause of scoliosis to ensure that it is idiopathic and not a symptom of another medical condition. The doctor will also determine the patient’s skeletal maturity and the exact degree of the spinal curve through an X-ray. This allows them to decide if VBT is the right treatment for the child.
Once the surgeon has recommended the VBT for treating scoliosis, a schedule for the operation will be set. Most of the time, surgeons book it on school holidays or towards the end of the academic year to minimize the child’s sick days. Like other surgical procedures, the patient is also required to undergo blood and anesthetic tests before the VBT surgery.
During the Procedure
A VBT surgery is typically performed by a thoracic and an orthopedic surgeon. Depending on the number of curves in the patient’s spine, multiple small incisions will be made to access the vertebrae. These incisions are created to improve the visibility of the spine. The surgeons also avoid cutting muscles to help the patient recover quicker.
Once there is better access to the spine, titanium screws will be installed on each level of the spine’s affected part. A special x-ray procedure will be done mid-operation to ensure that the screws are properly installed.
After confirming that the titanium screws are placed correctly, a cord rod will be placed on one side of the spine. It will be supported by the screws to make sure that it is always pulled tautly. This cord rod will help lift the compression from one side of the spine so that the patient’s vertebrae will develop normally. After ensuring that the screws and cord rod are placed properly during the final x-ray, the surgeon will drain the excess fluid from the operation and close the incisions.
After the Treatment
Patients can return to their homes 3-5 days after the surgery, but they must regularly consult with the physician to monitor the treatment’s progress. Physical therapy is not required, but it can help the patient return to their usual routines quicker.
Find the Best VBT Surgeon at Scoliosis Associates
Here at Scoliosis Associates, we pride ourselves in providing expert treatments for spine conditions using the latest tools and techniques. With over 50 years of experience in the industry, our staff can give prescribe the best treatment plans that can help patients return to their old routines. Call us now to consult with our experts.