Tether Procedure for Children with Scoliosis

 

The Tether ProcedureScoliosis is a condition in which the spine curves abnormally to the side. It can occur in people of all ages, but it is most commonly diagnosed in children and adolescents. The condition can get worse during the growth spurt that occurs just before puberty.

In children with scoliosis, the spine may curve to the side in a “C” or “S” shape. The severity of the curve can vary widely, from mild to severe. Mild cases may not cause any noticeable problems and severe cases can cause pain, difficulty breathing, and an abnormal appearance.

Detection

Scoliosis is usually detected during a routine physical exam.  It can sometimes show in a child who has an uneven shoulder blade or hip.  Sometimes doctors see a patient whose head does not appear centered over their body. If scoliosis is suspected, the child will usually undergo further testing, such as an x-ray.  This will confirm the diagnosis and determine the severity of the curve.

Treatment

Treatment for scoliosis in children typically depends on the severity of the curve and the child’s age. For mild cases, treatment the doctor may just want to watch the child and not initiate any treatment. In more severe cases, treatment may include the use of a back brace, physical therapy, or, in severe cases, surgery. The goal of treatment is to stop the curve from getting worse and reduce the curve to improve the child’s appearance and mobility.

Treatment Options include:

  • Observation: For mild cases of scoliosis, the curve may not appear severe enough to require treatment. In these cases, the doctor may monitor the child to ensure that the curve does not get worse.
  • Bracing: In cases where the curve appears more severe, the doctor may recommend a back brace to help support the spine. Also, it prevents the curve from getting worse. The child will need to wear the brace for most of the day.  It is adjustable for when the child grows.
  • Physical therapy: Physical therapy can help improve the strength and flexibility of the muscles around the spine.  This can sometimes reduce the severity of the curve.
  • Surgery: In severe cases, the doctor will suggest surgery correct the curve in the spine. There are several different types of surgical procedures that treat scoliosis.

Surgical Options

It is important to discuss all of the treatment options with a doctor to determine the best course of action for the individual child. There are several different types of surgical procedures that correct scoliosis in children, depending on the severity of the curve and the child’s age. Some of the most common surgical procedures used to treat scoliosis in children include:

  • Spinal fusion: During spinal fusion surgery, the surgeon will attach two or more vertebrae together using metal rods, screws, or hooks. The goal of spinal fusion is to straighten the spine and prevent the curve from getting worse.
  • Vertebral column resection: During this procedure, the surgeon will remove part of a vertebra to correct the curve in the spine. This procedure is typically used in cases where the curve is severe and spinal fusion alone will not cause a successful outcome.
  • Tethering: Tethering is a newer surgical procedure that involves attaching a flexible device, called a tether, to the spine to hold it in place while it grows. The tether is made of materials such as silicone or polyethylene and is attached to the spine using screws or hooks. Tethering is typically used in cases where the curve is severe and is not responding to other forms of treatment, such as bracing or physical therapy.

The Tether Option

It is important to discuss all of the surgical options with a doctor to determine the best course of action for the individual child. As with any surgical procedure, there are risks involved, including infection, nerve damage, and bleeding.

Scoliosis tethering is a surgical procedure used to treat scoliosis, a condition in which the spine curves abnormally to the side. Scoliosis can cause a variety of problems, including pain, difficulty breathing, and an abnormal appearance. Tethering is a relatively new procedure that is used to correct scoliosis by using a device called a tether to hold the spine in place while it grows.

The Tether Procedure

The procedure is usually performed on children and adolescents who have not yet finished growing.  This is because their bones are still developing and are more flexible than those of adults. It is used in cases where the curve in the spine is severe and is not responding to other forms of treatment, such as bracing or physical therapy.

The procedure is typically performed under general anesthesia, so the patient will sleep during the surgery. The surgeon will make an incision in the back, usually along the spine, and expose the affected area. The surgeon will then attach the tether, made of silicone or polyethylene, to the spine using screws or hooks. The tether is then tightened to straighten the spine and prevent further curvature.

Once the tether is in place, the surgeon will tighten it to straighten the spine and prevent further curvature. The tether will slowly straighten the spine. The surgeon may access other parts of the spine that need correction. The entire procedure typically takes several hours to complete.

Following Surgery

After the procedure, the child will typically need to wear a back brace for a period of time. This will help support the spine and ensure proper healing. Doctors will recommend physical therapy to help strengthen the muscles around the spine and improve mobility.

The Benefits of the Tether

The tether procedure, also known as tethering, is a surgical treatment for scoliosis.

There are several potential benefits to using the tethering procedure to treat scoliosis in children:

  • Straightens the spine: The tether is tightened to straighten the spine and prevent further curvature.  This can improve the child’s appearance and mobility.
  • Less invasive: Tethering is typically less invasive than other surgical procedures for scoliosis, such as spinal fusion.  Spinal fusion involves attaching metal rods to the spine. This may lead to a shorter recovery time and fewer complications.
  • Allows for continued growth: Because the tether is flexible, it allows the spine to continue growing while still holding it in place. This can be especially beneficial for children and adolescents who have not yet finished growing.
  • Allows for adjustment: Doctors can adjust the tether as needed to ensure that the spine is being held in the proper position. This allows for more precise correction of the curve and may lead to better long-term results.

It is important to discuss all of the potential risks and benefits of the tethering procedure with a doctor before deciding on this treatment option.

Efficacy

Overall, we at the Medical City Children’s Orthopedics and Spine Specialists find the Scoliosis Tether procedure as a relatively safe and effective treatment for Children with scoliosis, but as with any surgical procedure, there are risks involved. These may include infection, nerve damage, and bleeding. It is important to discuss all of the potential risks and benefits with doctors who are experts in this new important procedure.

PEOPLE ALSO ASK

The following Questions and Answers are provided, but visitors can call our office for further information.

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF USING THE TETHERING TECHNIQUE FOR SCOLIOSIS?

The main purpose of tethering for scoliosis is to correct the curvature of the spine and prevent it from worsening over time. It is typically used in children with severe scoliosis who are still growing, as the procedure can allow the spine to continue growing while also correcting the curvature.

HOW IS THE TETHERING PROCEDURE PERFORMED?

The tethering procedure is typically performed under general anesthesia. The surgeon will make an incision in the patient’s back and attach a tether or rod to the spine using screws or other devices. The tether is then tightened to correct the curvature of the spine. The incision is then closed with sutures or staples.

WHAT IS THE RECOVERY LIKE AFTER THE TETHERING PROCEDURE?

The recovery process after tethering will vary depending on the specific details of the surgery and the patient’s overall health. In general, patients will need to rest and take it easy for a few weeks after the procedure, and they may need to wear a back brace to support their spine as it heals. Physical therapy may also be recommended to help the patient regain strength and mobility.