THE TETHER VERTEBRAL BODY TETHERING SYSTEM  

If you are reading this blog, your doctor has probably talked to you about the Tether™ Vertebral Body Tethering System as a potential treatment option for pediatric scoliosis patients.

Boys lying on grass with football

When should the Vertebral Body Tethering System be used?

The Tether Vertebral Body Tethering System is indicated to treat skeletally immature patients that require surgical treatment to obtain and maintain correction of progressive idiopathic scoliosis, with a major Cobb angle of 30 to 65 degrees and whose osseous structure is dimensionally adequate to accommodate screw fixation as determined by radiographic imaging.  The use of bracing should have produced no positive results or not be able to use brace ware

The Tether – Vertebral Body Tethering System is different than typical scoliosis surgery, which typically uses techniques to fuse vertebra together and implant stiff metal rods along either side of your spine to straighten the undesirable curves. 

Rather than stiff metal rods, the Tether – Vertebral Body Tethering System uses a strong flexible cord to pull on the outside of a scoliosis curve to straighten out the spine.  The system permanently straightens your spine using the patient’s own growth process.  This process is called growth modulation. 

The bones or vertebra in a scoliotic spine are wedged shaped, tall on one and short on the other.  When the vertebra are pulled by the cord, it puts pressure on the tall aide of the vertebra on the outside of the cure.  This pressure slows the growth on the tall side of the vertebra so that the short side can grow and catch up.  After surgery, the spine may continue to straighten even more over time as the child or adolescent grows.

The Tether attached to a spineThe Tether – Vertebral Body Tethering System is different from the other surgical treatments for scoliosis because the spine is able to bend and flex, rather than being fused in place with the stiff metal rods needed for spinal fusion.  However, when it comes to the Tether, it is important to be treated while you are still growing so that the implants can allow the spine to correct itself over time.

The Tether – Vertebral Body Tethering System is a special category of medical device called a Humanitarian Use Device.  This means that the device is specifically approved for idiopathic scoliosis in young people who have scoliosis with a significant amount of growth remaining because this is a rare condition and the Tether™ has not been proven to help all cases of scoliosis.

Instead, the Tether – Vertebral Body Tethering System has been shown to have a probable benefit, the Tether – Vertebral Body Tethering System is the only medical device available that treats scoliosis while a person is actively growing and uses their own growth to repair their curve.

Potential Benefits of the TetherTether before and after surgery

  • When compared with traditional straightening of the spine using screws, rods and spinal fusion:
  • The Tether – Vertebral Body Tethering System is designed to allow for motion at the levels treated
  • There may be smaller incisions required with the Tether™ – Vertebral Body Tethering System surgical technique (less scarring)

There may be muscle and soft tissue disruption with the Tether Vertebral Body Tethering System surgical technique

However, note that since this is a humanitarian use device, the Tether – Vertebral Body Tethering System has not been shown to help all cases of scoliosis.  Instead, the Tether™ Vertebral Body Tethering System has been shown to have a probable benefit.  Talk with your doctor about tethering procedures, what published literature is available and available to the public, and what outcomes have been like for other patients

Conclusion of the use of Vertebral Body Tethering System

Studies show that there is a likely benefit of scoliosis surgery with the Tether™ – Vertebral Body Tethering System, however, complications are possible and they should be discussed with your doctor

 

If you or your loved one is suffering from degenerative disc disease, a herniated disc, or another complex spine condition, there is hope. We can help. Call Southwest Scoliosis Institute at 214-556-0555 to make an appointment today.