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Spine Surgery at Shriners Children's

Spine surgery might be a helpful option for your child if nonsurgical treatments aren't the best fit given their age or condition. Surgery might be the first option for those with severe spinal deformities or spinal cord injuries. No matter your child's situation, Shriners Children's offers innovative, minimally invasive surgeries to treat many conditions like scoliosis, kyphosis, lordosis, chest wall deformities, and spinal cord injuries.

Our Approach to Surgery is Simple

We want your child as happy, healthy and comfortable as they can be. Our physicians and surgeons are world leaders in developing new techniques for spinal surgery, so you can rest assured knowing your child is receiving the best care possible. Our doctors work together with you and your child to feel safe and taken care of before, during and after surgery.

Our approach is grounded in leading research that we do, and innovative products and procedures we create. Our aim for spine surgery is to:

  • Stop your child's curve progression, specifically in scoliosis and kyphosis patients
  • Reduce pain caused by an injury or spine condition
  • Help your child sit and stand upright again and maintain healthy posture
  • Help improve lung function
  • Keep the spine's curve controlled throughout your child’s life as they grow

Examples of Spine Surgeries We Perform

Although it's not an exhaustive list, below are some of the procedures we preform for children with spine conditions.

  • Anterior vertebral body tethering (AVBT) uses a strong, flexible cord that gently pulls on the outside of a scoliosis curve to straighten the spine. A screw is placed in each vertebra of the curve and then attached to the flexible cord with the spine in a straighter position. If recommended for your child, this treatment can help avoid surgeries needed to expand growing rods.
  • Vertical expandable prosthetic titanium rib (VEPTR or titanium rib) is a rod curved to fit the back of the chest and spine, and is designed to primarily be used for growing children with a chest wall deformity.
  • Growing rods allow for continued and controlled spine growth. This is performed as a surgical procedure where the rods are attached to the spine above and below the curve with screws. The growing rods are lengthened under anesthesia every four to six months, depending on how the curvature of the spine is changing.
  • MAGnetic expansion control (MAGEC) spinal bracing and distraction system rods could be recommended for younger children with less severe curves. With MAGEC rods, a single surgery is done at the beginning of treatment, but the noninvasive lengthening process eliminates the need for repeated surgeries.
  • Spinal fusion surgery is recommended to correct a curve or stop it from progressing. Fusion could be recommended for a child if they are still growing and their curve is more severe, or if they have stopped growing and the spine needs stabilized.

Specific treatments and services may vary by location. Please contact a specific location for more information.

Her lifelong passion is golf and within six weeks post-op she was back on the course. Within six months, she was competing for a national championship! VBT was truly a life-changing procedure with lifelong benefits!
Elizabeth, Philadelphia
female patient outside

The Tether™ Offers Patients a New Option for Spine Surgery

Shriners Children's is a leader in innovative spine care. Our doctors developed patented vertebral body tethering (VBT) techniques that offer another fusionless option for scoliosis. VBT uses a strong, flexible cord to gently pull on the outside of a scoliosis curve to straighten the spine. Scoliosis progression is stopped, the spine is realigned and can continue to grow, and flexibility is maintained.

Services We Provide

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Care Management

The care management team at Shriners Children's consists of registered nurses and social workers who act as resources for families throughout their plan of care.

Child Life Services

Child life professionals at Shriners Children’s take pride in focusing on the "above and beyond" aspects of medical care for our patients. From procedure support to camps, they are ready to advocate for your family.

Motion Analysis

The specialists in Shriners Children’s motion analysis centers collect and analyze movement-related data, like gait analysis, to help treat children with neuromuscular, acquired or congenital disorders.

School and Community Re-entry Program

Shriners Children’s offers educational services and re-entry programs to children who are receiving inpatient care for prolonged periods of time.

Pediatric Orthotic and Prosthetic Services

Shriners Children’s Pediatric Orthotic and Prosthetic Services designs, fits and manufactures orthotics and prosthetics for children from infants to young adults.

Radiology and Imaging

Shriners Children's radiology and imaging services are a noninvasive way for physicians to see what's going on inside a child's body. Our radiology and imaging professionals work to do this in the safest way possible.

Next Steps

Request an Appointment

Families and caregivers seeking treatment should start by contacting us for an appointment.

Log in to the Patient Portal

Parents and guardians of existing patients can email, request records, schedule appointments and more.

Refer a Patient

Physicians and healthcare providers can request appointments, start transfers or contact us with questions.