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news News Wednesday, November 20, 2019 Wednesday, November 20, 2019 4:13 PM - Wednesday, November 20, 2019 4:13 PM

Family researched options for scoliosis care, found innovative fusionless option

Family researched options for scoliosis care, found innovative fusionless option

Danika, or Dani as she prefers to be called, was diagnosed with scoliosis at the age of 9. Her parents, Steve and Kimberly, sought an orthopaedic physician in the Washington, D.C. area. Danika was braced at 10 years old, but despite bracing, her curve progressed. Two years later, they were researching innovative treatments for scoliosis. They were reading up on spine fusions and that is when they came across a Facebook support group about vertebral body tethering (VBT), an alternative to spine fusions. They knew they needed to find out more.

An appointment was made in August 2018 to see Amer Samdani, M.D., chief of surgery at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Philadelphia. The leader in completing VBT surgeries, Dr. Samdani provided Dani and her parents options for her spine care. After a few months, her curve increased, and in May 2019 it was time to make a decision.

Danika was a prime candidate for VBT with a 41-degree curvature of the spine. Her surgery date was scheduled for September 2019, nearly a year after she first came to the hospital. Little did Danika’s family know during the planning of her surgical date that she would be the first patient to have the surgery post-FDA clearance, with a new device specifically for VBT. Although the procedure had been completed over 450 times before Danika’s surgery, she was now the first to have the surgery with the new device.

The Tether™ is the first commercially available product used specifically for anterior vertebral body tethering, a surgical procedure and a promising alternative for certain patients with scoliosis who are still growing and for whom surgery is indicated. Because of Shriners Hospitals for Children and Dr. Samdani’s leadership, our hospital system has a patent on the new device designed specifically for VBT surgeries.

“The ability to utilize a child’s growth to correct the curve in their back is a leap in the way these children like Danika are treated. Properly selected patients can achieve curve correction while maintaining mobility,” stated Dr. Samdani.

Danika fills her time with creating art pieces – she loves to paint. She even painted canvases for her teachers when she finished sixth grade. She also enjoys listening to music while painting. Besides painting, Danika enjoys traveling the country with her parents and sister. They recently traveled to Hawaii during the summer before her surgery.

If Danika could tell her pre-surgery self something post-surgery, it would be “It is worth it.”