Science is slow. Still, advances constantly take place before our eyes. One of the best is an extraordinary surgery that treats scoliosis in children. Unlike spinal fusion, vertebral body tethering works with the body’s growth to help straighten the spine. Uncover the difference between spinal fusion and vertebral body tethering to find out how they work.

What Is Vertebral Body Tethering?

Vertebral body tethering (VBT) is a promising way of correcting scoliosis with surgery. This unique treatment uses an internal tether that puts pressure on the outside of the curve so the inside can continue growing. It’s like an internal brace that applies constant and direct treatment.

What Is Spinal Fusion?

Spinal fusion is still the most widely used form of surgery for correcting scoliosis. Implants like rods, screws, and hooks hold the spine in a straighter and more stabilized position. While it helps reduce pain and other symptoms associated with the condition, it puts the spine in a rigid position.

Who Benefits From VBT?

VBT is used to treat scoliosis in children with a Cobb angle of 45 to 60 degrees who are still growing. It may not be the best option for teenagers who have completed puberty. Since it allows the spine to continue growing, it’s less rigid than spinal fusion and gives patients more flexibility.

Who Should Still Have Spinal Fusion?

Although new types of surgeries for scoliosis exist, spinal fusion is still the most popular. It provides instant results and has been in use for decades. Anyone who is a candidate for scoliosis surgery may benefit from spinal fusion, whether they’re young or old. The earliest age a child may receive this surgery is typically around age 10 or 12.

What Is the Difference Between Spinal Fusion and Vertebral Body Tethering?

So what is the difference between spinal fusion and vertebral body tethering? While spinal fusion is more widely used than vertebral body tethering, VBT targets a specific age group for a specific condition. The surgery is designed to improve scoliosis for children who haven’t had luck with bracing. Though both are invasive procedures, VBT gives the patient more flexibility. It isn’t an instant fix, but technically, spinal fusion isn’t either. Many people still wear a brace after surgery until they are used to supporting themselves. Talk to your doctor to figure out the best option for you.