Return to sport and daily life activities after vertebral body tethering for AIS: analysis of the sport activity questionnaire

Eur Spine J. 2021 Jul;30(7):1998-2006. doi: 10.1007/s00586-021-06768-6. Epub 2021 Feb 27.


Purpose: Vertebral body tethering (VBT) is an alternative to fusion for selected scoliosis patients. As VBT does not limit spine mobility, it has been propagated that this technique allows a quicker return to physical activity than fusion. However, no data are available to support this statement. Aim of this study was to quantify how much time patients required to resume preoperative activity level and to seek possible associations between return to physical activity and demographic, radiographic and surgical data.

Methods: One year postoperatively, the validated sport activity questionnaire (SAQ) was administered to all skeletally immature patients who underwent VBT at our institution. SAQ data were analyzed and a multivariate analysis was conducted to investigate associations between SAQ and demographic, radiographic and surgical data.

Results: Thirty-one patients aged 14.5 years completed the SAQ. Within 3 months from VBT, 97% returned to school, 61% resumed physical education, 97% carried a backpack, 68% run, and 82% rode a bike; 70% bent within a month from VBT. Ninety-four percent of patients returned to their preoperative athletic level. Within 3 months, 63% of responders resumed noncontact, 61% contact and 53% collision sports. No relevant associations were observed between the SAQ and demographic, radiographic and surgical data. In particular, number of instrumented vertebrae, level of the lowest instrumented vertebra and postoperative Cobb angle did not influence patients' return to preoperative activities.

Conclusion: VBT allows patients to quickly return to their preoperative activity level, irrespectively of the postoperative Cobb angle or type of instrumentation.

Keywords: Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis; Fusionless anterior scoliosis correction; Patient reported outcome measures; Physical activity; Sport; Sport activity questionnaire; Vertebral body tethering.

MeSH terms

  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Return to Sport
  • Scoliosis* / diagnostic imaging
  • Scoliosis* / surgery
  • Spinal Fusion*
  • Sports*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Thoracic Vertebrae
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vertebral Body