This blog provides the details of how a Tethering System helps pediatric scoliosis patients. For children with a scoliosis condition, their parents should talk to their orthopedic doctor. And, their doctor should tell them about the Tether™.  Doctors believe that the Tether system provides an excellent treatment for pediatric scoliosis patients.

Boys lying on grass with football

The Vertebral Body Tethering System


The Tether – Vertebral Body Tethering System helps treat children with advanced scoliosis. These patients need surgery to stop an increasing idiopathic scoliosis spinal curve. The patient described here has scoliosis with a main 30-65 degrees Cobb angle and whose body will adequately support screw fixation (Radiographic imaging determines this). Also, the Tether provides an alternative solution when bracing gives poor results or the patient can’t use a brace.

The Tether provides another option for the scoliosis patient. The typical procedure that we have mastered uses an approach to fuse vertebras together,  It also implants stiff metal rods along either side of your spine. Doctors carry out this technique to straighten the unwanted curves.

Rather than stiff metal rods, the Tether – Vertebral Body Tethering System uses a strong flexible cord.  The cord pulls on the outside of the spinal curve and straightens out the spine.  The system straightens the spine using the patient’s own growth process.  Doctors refer to this process as growth modulation.

The bones or vertebra in a scoliotic spine look like a wedge, tall on one and short on the other.  When the cord gets pulled, it puts pressure on the tall side of the vertebra on the outside of the cure.  This pressure slows down the growth on the tall side so that the short side can grow and catch up.  After surgery, the spine continues to straighten even more over time with the growth of the child.

The Tether attached to a spine

The Tether attached to a spineThe Tether – Vertebral Body Tethering System provides a different approach from the other surgical treatments for scoliosis because the spine can 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, we only consider children. A child’s growth causes the spinal curve to correct itself over time.

The Tether’s approval stems from a special medical classification called a Humanitarian Use Device.  This means that the FDA approved the device for idiopathic scoliosis in young people who possess scoliosis with a significant amount of growth remaining.  However, note that Tether does not appear to help all cases of scoliosis, it falls under the classification of a humanitarian use device.  Instead, the Tether 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 actively grows and uses their own growth to repair their curve. We strongly suggest that parents talk with our doctors about tethering procedures, and learn from the literature that is available on the procedure, and what outcomes have been like for other patients

Potential Benefits of the Tether

When compared with traditional straightening of the spine using screws, rods, and spinal fusion, the Tether has the following observations::

Tether before and after surgery

  • The Tether – Vertebral Body Tethering System allows for motion at the levels treated
  • The procedure requires smaller incisions with less scarring
  • The Tether could cause muscle and soft tissue disruption

Conclusion of the use of the Tether

Studies show a likely benefit with less invasive surgery for scoliosis surgery with the Tether™ – Vertebral Body Tethering System, however, with all surgeries, complications are possible and parents should discuss those with their doctor.


VBT The Tethering System

Watch Dr. Shyam Kishan MD, explain The Tether™ Vertebral Body Tethering System. He explains the difference between a fusion and the tethering procedure and why and when they are used in children and teenagers to treat Scoliosis. Should you or someone you love suffer with Scoliosis give us a call, we can help, 214-556-0555

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