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Final Fusion After Growing-Rod Treatment for Early Onset Scoliosis: Is It Really Final?

Poe-Kochert, Connie RN, CNP; Shannon, Claire MD; Pawelek, Jeff B. BS; Thompson, George H. MD; Hardesty, Christina K. MD; Marks, David S. FRCS; Akbarnia, Behrooz A. MD; McCarthy, Richard E. MD; Emans, John B. MD

Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery - American Volume: 16 November 2016 - Volume 98 - Issue 22 - p 1913–1917
doi: 10.2106/JBJS.15.01334
Scientific Articles

Background: Final fusion is thought to be the end point for patients with early onset scoliosis following treatment with the use of growing rods. But is it? The purpose of this study was to determine the incidence and cause of any reoperation after final fusion.

Methods: A multicenter database of patients with early onset scoliosis was retrospectively analyzed to identify patients treated with growing rods with a minimum of 2 years of follow-up after final fusion. All reoperations were recorded. Reoperation was defined as a return to the operating room for any complication related to the final fusion surgery or etiology of the spinal deformity.

Results: One hundred (84%) of 119 patients met the inclusion criteria: for 38 of the patients, the etiology of scoliosis was neuromuscular; for 31, syndromic; for 22, idiopathic; and for 9, congenital. The mean age at final fusion was 12.2 years (range, 8.5 to 18.7 years). The mean follow-up after final fusion was 4.3 years (range, 2 to 11.2 years). Twenty (20%) of the patients had 30 complications requiring reoperation (57 procedures). There was a mean of 1.5 complications per patient after final fusion. Eight patients with neuromuscular scoliosis, 8 with syndromic, 4 with idiopathic, and no patient with congenital scoliosis required reoperation. Nine (9%) of the patients experienced infection (33 reoperation procedures); 6 (6%) had instrumentation failure (8 procedures); 5 (5%) had painful or prominent instrumentation (6 procedures); 3 (3%) each had coronal deformity (3 procedures), pseudarthrosis (3 procedures), or sagittal deformity (3 procedures); and 1 (1%) had progressive crankshaft chest wall deformity requiring a thoracoplasty (1 procedure).

Conclusions: A higher-than-anticipated percentage of patients treated with growing rods required unplanned reoperation following final fusion. Long-term follow-up after final fusion is necessary to determine true final results. Patients and parents need to be counseled regarding the possibility of further surgery after final fusion.

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

1Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Cleveland, Ohio

2Growing Spine Foundation, San Diego, California

3Royal Orthopaedic Hospital, Birmingham, United Kingdom

4Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Little Rock, Arkansas

5Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts

E-mail address for G.H. Thompson:

Copyright 2016 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Incorporated
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