Up to nine million people are living with scoliosis — a condition where the spine curves sideways, causing pain and deformities.
Traditionally, kids are put in back braces to try to straighten things out. If that doesn’t work, fusion surgery is the next step. But, that has its limitations.
Now, a new, less invasive treatment option is giving kids an easier way to ease their pain.
“We like to go to Target and spend money,” said Ruby Levitt, suffers from scoliosis.
That’s not all these two sisters have in common—they both have scoliosis and so do their mother and grandmother.
“It’s really uncomfortable. I can feel it all the time,” said Ire Levitt, suffers from scoliosis.
“I was in a lot of pain,” Ruby Levitt said.
The difference between the two: Ire has not had surgery, but little sister Ruby tried something new to straighten her spine—vertebral body tethering or VBT.
“It allows us to approach the spine differently in a way where we don’t have to disrupt quite as many muscles and underlying anatomy. It also allows us to maintain the flexibility of the spine,” said Dr. Jaren Riley, MD, pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children.
Through four small incisions, Dr. Jaren Riley used a rope, similar to nylon, to tether the bones of the spine together.
“With the rope, we can tighten the rope, which allows us to straighten the curve to a certain degree. And so, the curve will gradually get straighter and straighter,” Dr. Riley added.
Ruby had a 52-degree curve in her spine before surgery. After VBT, it was 18. She’s pain-free and an inch taller!
“I was really excited about it, and I, like, felt normal for once,” said Ruby Levitt.