Background: The traditional techniques to treat thoracic insufficiency syndrome (TIS) are not able to stabilize or improve chest wall size or pulmonary function while allowing spine growth. To this end, vertical expandable prosthetic titanium rib (VEPTR) was specifically designed to treat TIS by allowing growth of the thoracic cavity and control/correction of spine deformity. The purpose of this study was to determine quality of life (QOL) of children with TIS and its impact on their parents before and after implantation of the VEPTR and also compare these results to those of healthy children.
Methods: As part of the original multicenter evaluation of the VEPTR, a Child Health Questionnaire (CHQ) was collected preoperatively on 45 patients who were subsequently treated with expansion thoracoplasty using the VEPTR. The average age was 8.2 ± 2.6 years, and the parent form of the CHQ was filled out by the primary caretaker. Patients were divided into 3 diagnostic categories: rib fusion (n = 15), hypoplastic thorax syndromes (n = 17), and progressive spinal deformity (n = 13).
Results: There were significant differences between the study patients and healthy children in physical domains. Compared with parents of healthy children, parents of children with TIS experienced more limitations on their time and emotional lives due to their children's health problems. There were no significant differences in CHQ before and after the surgery except for a significant decrease in the self-esteem among a subgroup of patients with hypoplastic thorax syndromes. There were no significant differences in postoperative QOL between patients who had VEPTR-related complications and patients who did not have the complications.
Conclusions: The children with TIS had lower physical scores and higher caregiver burden scores than healthy children. However, the scores in psychosocial domains were similar to those in healthy children. Our study demonstrated that QOL of children and burden of care in their parents remained the same after VEPTR instrumentation. Children's QOL seemed to be not affected by whether they had VEPTR-related complications or not.