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Scoliosis and spine care

Scoliosis and spine care

Shriners Hospitals for Children — Portland offers an extensive spinal deformity program. Treatment for a spinal condition, including scoliosis, varies depending on the cause of the disorder and progression of the spinal curve.

Scoliosis and spine conditions treated:

  • Infantile scoliosis, adolescent idiopathic scoliosis
  • Early onset scoliosis
  • Syndromic scoliosis
  • Spinal deformity in skeletal dysplasia
  • Neuromuscular scoliosis
  • Congenital scoliosis
  • Scheuermann’s kyphosis
  • Kyphosis
  • Complex spine deformities
  • Cervical spine deformities in children
  • Benign and malignant tumors of the spine
  • Spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis

Scoliosis and spine care evaluation

Your child will be seen by an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in the care and treatment of pediatric and adolescent spinal conditions. A physical exam will be performed and X-rays may be taken using our EOS imaging system. This advanced radiologic equipment is only available locally at the Portland Shriners Hospital. The EOS can generate an X-ray of the whole body using only a fraction of the radiation used by conventional radiography or CT scans, providing our doctors more detailed images.

The X-rays will be reviewed and a treatment plan will be created, which may include observation, therapy, bracing or surgery depending on age, cause and the degree of the deformity.

Scoliosis treatment


Bracing is often the preferred non-surgical treatment for most kinds of scoliosis. Braces are customized to meet the needs of the patient. Custom molded braces are made and fitted at Pediatric Orthotic and Prosthetic Services – Northwest, LLC, in the Portland Shriners Hospital.

Mehta-Cotrel casting/elongation derotation flexion (EDF) Casting

The Portland Shriners Hospital has been utilizing Mehta-Cotrel casting for the treatment of infantile scoliosis for more than 15 years. Doctors mold the infant or child with a series of corrective casts. The goal is to prevent progression of the curve; however in some cases, it is possible to obtain a complete correction.

Growing rods

Specialized spinal devices are implanted to straighten and control the curvature in children too young to undergo a permanent spinal fusion surgery. The following are three types of devices used:

  • Growing rods (standard): A surgically implanted rod braces the spine through growth to minimize curve progression.
  • The MAGEC system: A surgically implanted magnetic rod braces the spine through growth to minimize curve progression. The rod can be lengthened without a surgical procedure using a magnet device.
  • The VEPTR system: The vertical expandable prosthetic titanium rib system uses titanium rods and expandable sleeves attached to the ribs, spine or pelvis.

Spinal instrumentation and fusion

A surgical procedure that involves implanting corrective rods to straighten the spine, align the shoulders and hips, and fuse the vertebrae to obtain a permanent correction. In cases of severe or complex deformities, halo gravity traction, or spinal osteotomies; including vertebral resections, may be utilized.

Anterior vertebral body tethering (VBT)

Anterior vertebral body tethering (VBT) is a promising alternative for certain patients with scoliosis who meet very specific criteria, are still growing, and for whom surgery is indicated. VBT is an alternative to spinal fusion.

Instead of using metal rods, VBT uses a strong, flexible cord to gently pull on the outside of a scoliosis curve to straighten the spine. A screw is placed in each vertebra of the curve and then attached to the flexible cord with the spine in a straighter position. Scoliosis progression is stopped, the spine is realigned and can continue to grow, and flexibility is maintained. As the child grows, it is anticipated that curve progression will be halted and the spine will remain straight.

The Tether straightens the spine using the patient’s growth process. The pressure from the cord slows the growth on the tall side of the vertebra, so that the short side can grow and catch up. This novel technology allows for both correction and continued motion at the levels of the spine treated, unlike fusion surgeries.

Collaborative approach to care

The Portland Shriners Hospital’s pediatric orthopaedic staff works collaboratively with primary care physicians, parents and the patient to develop comprehensive treatment plans that meet the individual needs of each patient. Through innovative care, we instill confidence and teach patients that there are no limits to what they can do.

Regardless of your child’s medical condition or needs, you can expect to benefit from the expertise of our team who is dedicated to the needs of your child. Our hospital helps ensure patients receive an optimal outcome by providing all aspects of inpatient and outpatient pediatric orthopaedic care, including surgery, on-site rehabilitation, treatment and psychological support.

The medical team

Robert Bernstein, M.D., Chief of Staff
Joseph I. Krajbich, M.D.
Michelle Welborn, M.D.
Daniel Bouton, M.D.