Anterior Spinal Growth Modulation in Skeletally Immature Patients with Idiopathic Scoliosis: A Comparison with Posterior Spinal Fusion at 2 to 5 Years Postoperatively

J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2020 May 6;102(9):769-777. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.19.01176.


Background: Anterior vertebral body tethering (AVBT) has been introduced as a means of correcting scoliosis without fusion. The purpose of this study was to compare outcomes for patients with thoracic idiopathic scoliosis between a group of patients who underwent AVBT and a matched cohort of patients treated with posterior spinal fusion and instrumentation (PSF).

Methods: A retrospective study of patients who underwent AVBT and PSF for idiopathic scoliosis was conducted. The inclusion criteria were determined on the basis of the AVBT cohort: primary thoracic idiopathic scoliosis with a curve magnitude between 40° and 67°, Risser stage of ≤1, age of 9 to 15 years, no prior spine surgery, index surgery between 2011 and 2016, and minimum follow-up of 2 years. Demographic, radiographic, clinical, and patient-reported outcomes and revisions were compared between groups.

Results: There were 23 patients in the AVBT cohort and 26 patients in the PSF cohort. The mean follow-up (and standard deviation) was similar between groups: 3.4 ± 1.1 years for the AVBT group and 3.6 ± 1.6 years for the PSF group (p = 0.6). Preoperatively, the groups were similar in all measurements of radiographic and clinical deformity, with mean main thoracic curves of 53° ± 8° for the AVBT group and 54° ± 7° for the PSF group (p = 0.4). At the time of final follow-up, the AVBT cohort had significantly more residual deformity, with a mean thoracic curve of 33° ± 18° compared with 16° ± 6° for the PSF group (p < 0.001). There were 9 revision procedures in the AVBT cohort (with 3 conversions to PSF and 3 more pending) and none in the PSF cohort. Revisions occurred at a mean postoperative time of 2.3 years (range, 1.2 to 3.7 years). Twelve patients (52%) had evidence of broken tethers; of these patients, 4 underwent revision. The post-intervention patient-reported outcomes were similar.

Conclusions: Both AVBT and PSF resulted in postoperative correction; however, 2-year correction was better maintained in the PSF group. There were no differences in post-intervention patient-reported outcomes. AVBT resulted in less deformity correction and more revision procedures than PSF, but resulted in the delay or prevention of PSF in the majority of patients.

Level of evidence: Therapeutic Level III. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bone Screws
  • Child
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / surgery
  • Male
  • Postoperative Period
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Scoliosis / surgery*
  • Spinal Fusion / methods*
  • Thoracic Vertebrae / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome