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news News Tuesday, May 19, 2020 Tuesday, May 19, 2020 6:40 PM - Tuesday, May 19, 2020 6:40 PM

Patient with scoliosis excels with breakthrough anterior vertebral body tethering treatment

Patient with scoliosis excels with breakthrough anterior vertebral body tethering treatment

When 8-year-old Rylie was diagnosed with scoliosis, she did everything she could to avoid surgery. In hopes of reducing the severity of the curvature of her spine, she tried physical therapy and bracing for many years. However, when she was 14, her curve had worsened from 24 degrees to 50 degrees. Realizing that Rylie’s current form of treatment wasn’t working, her parents were connected with Michelle Welborn, M.D., at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Portland, who recommended immediate surgery.

In March of 2019, Dr. Welborn met with Rylie and learned more about her goals and the level of activity that she hoped to maintain after surgery. As an active cheerleader, it was incredibly important to Rylie to maintain flexibility in her back, and because of this, Dr. Welborn determined that VBT would be the best fit for Rylie.

VBT (anterior vertebral body tethering) is a promising alternative for certain patients with scoliosis who meet very specific criteria. This treatment is an alternative to spinal fusion surgery. “While VBT is not right for everyone, it is a great alternative to fusion, particularly for those patients where preserving motion is critical, such as those patients with curves in their lower spine, athletes and dancers,” said Dr. Welborn. “Furthermore, recovery tends to be faster so patients can return to activities faster than they would following a fusion.” 

“When Dr. Welborn recommended surgery, Rylie was very scared and emotional,” said Anne, Rylie’s mom. “Dr. Welborn helped Rylie build confidence in the procedure, and by the time we proceeded with surgery, Rylie felt positive about it and was happy to go.”

In April of 2019, Rylie underwent VBT surgery for scoliosis. “All of the staff were super-positive and they explained everything very well,” said Anne. “Dr. Welborn even came in to visit Rylie before surgery to make sure she wasn’t stressed.”

Rylie agreed. “Dr. Welborn made me feel more comfortable with the whole process!”

Due to surgery, Rylie had planned to take the season off from cheerleading. However, after the healing process, she was cleared to join her team earlier than expected. “After I healed from the surgery, nothing seemed to hurt anymore,” said Rylie. “When I got approval to try a back hand spring, it really didn’t feel that much different than before surgery!”

The treatment that Rylie received for scoliosis made such an impact on her that she featured VBT in a school project earlier this year. On the topic of Breaking Barriers in History, Rylie discussed how VBT has broken barriers in corrective scoliosis surgical methods. As part of her research, Rylie interviewed Dr. Welborn. We can’t wait to see what’s next for Rylie!

Rylie with science project