Has anyone's child gone through VBT surgery?

Posted by shiasmom @shiasmom, Feb 25 10:57am

My daughter is 12 and was recently found to have a 56 degree curve and qualifies for the VBT surgery. I know its a newer surgery and just recently passed FDA in 2019. I am nervous as everyone is. Mostly because it is a newer procedure but is non-invasive. I am concerned about the long-term effects. Sounds like there is a chance the cord could break and a 10 – 20% chance of another surgery to take place. Please tell me more about the experience, post surgery, pain level, comfortability, scarring, and anything else that would be helpful to know.

Hello @shiasmom and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect, an online community of members who get and give support to one another. Thank you for sharing your daughter's spine health story. I see that you are interested in connecting with members who have some experience with this surgery for their child so you can decide what is best for your daughter.

While we wait for members to join the conversation, I'd like to share this story with you from our Sharing Mayo Clinic Blog. This is about VBT surgery specifically.

-Sharing Mayo Clinic: Scoliosis Surgery Preserves Teen's Mobility, Boosts Self-Esteem:
https://sharing.mayoclinic.org/2019/07/10/scoliosis-surgery-preserves-teens-mobility-boosts-self-esteem/
Can I ask if you've had a formal consult on this procedure yet or if you've been researching options on your own?

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Thank you! I have read this story on the Mayo website. I do have an appointment with a surgeon at Gillette Childrens hospital next month. I am trying to gather as much information as I can so I know the questions I need to ask the surgeon when we meet with him. We are also looking to meet a surgeon at Mayo since we only live about an hour away from Mayo. I know VBT is a newer procedure, but need to know more about the surgeons performing the procedure. I specifically want to know how experienced the surgeons are. I don't feel like there is a lot of data out there right now to know the long term affects of VBT.

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@shiasmom

Thank you! I have read this story on the Mayo website. I do have an appointment with a surgeon at Gillette Childrens hospital next month. I am trying to gather as much information as I can so I know the questions I need to ask the surgeon when we meet with him. We are also looking to meet a surgeon at Mayo since we only live about an hour away from Mayo. I know VBT is a newer procedure, but need to know more about the surgeons performing the procedure. I specifically want to know how experienced the surgeons are. I don't feel like there is a lot of data out there right now to know the long term affects of VBT.

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I know exactly how you are feeling. We went through this with my 17 (16 at the time) year old son. Curve at that time was just reaching the degree where they would start talking about surgery once he stopped growing. He had a little over a year left of growing so our surgeon shared VBT. We too had the concern of the lack of knowing long term effects. That was our biggest concern but we also didn't like the concept of bone fusion and losing movement. Too young and active for that. We opted for the surgery and he had it in Jan 2020. I was not certain how he would handle the surgery as he had never experienced anything even close to something like this. He did really great. The chest tube was the most uncomfortable thing for him. They told us if in pain get up and walk and we did anytime of the day/night. He said that helped. They send you home with a pain catheter but he didn't need it. We were able to control the pain with Tylenol, Advil rotation. He went back to school after his recovery period and started baseball in the Spring. Started slow but by end of season was playing full time. He played soccer in the Summer and this last Fall. He said he has no back pain. He has been able to do everything he did before the surgery. We have had two follow-up visits (6 month/1 yr) and both visits the curve looks better and the cord is looking good. He does have scars ("battle wounds") – one on middle back area and a couple on his sides.

We went to Mayo for the surgery (also live close). Our surgeon was great she explained everything very well. And was upfront with what they didn't know at the time. Shared publications for us to review. We talked about how many VBT surgeries Mayo has done and outcomes, the fact it was not fully FDA approved. She referenced meetings that she regularly has with other physicians around the country where they meet just to talk about VBT. Our biggest concern was the lack of long term data. Most other questions were what happens before, during and after the surgery. We met with a team member that walked us through every step. What to expect day of, what Brady would be going through, what happens in the hospital, when we first get home, etc. After recovery limitations – we were told none – if it hurts take a break, try again and if it still hurts don't do that. So far we have seen no limitations.

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Hello @1toddfamily and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. Thank you so much for coming to this discussion to provide support to @shiasmom and share your experience for your son, Brady. What fantastic news that your son has had both a successful surgery and is back to being a kid again.

If you don't mind my asking, how did you find Connect and this conversation?

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My sister saw the post on Facebook. I very rarely use Facebook so she sent it to me.

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@1toddfamily that is fantastic and very much appreciate your sister for helping to connect you. We are happy to have you in the Spine Group!

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@1toddfamily

I know exactly how you are feeling. We went through this with my 17 (16 at the time) year old son. Curve at that time was just reaching the degree where they would start talking about surgery once he stopped growing. He had a little over a year left of growing so our surgeon shared VBT. We too had the concern of the lack of knowing long term effects. That was our biggest concern but we also didn't like the concept of bone fusion and losing movement. Too young and active for that. We opted for the surgery and he had it in Jan 2020. I was not certain how he would handle the surgery as he had never experienced anything even close to something like this. He did really great. The chest tube was the most uncomfortable thing for him. They told us if in pain get up and walk and we did anytime of the day/night. He said that helped. They send you home with a pain catheter but he didn't need it. We were able to control the pain with Tylenol, Advil rotation. He went back to school after his recovery period and started baseball in the Spring. Started slow but by end of season was playing full time. He played soccer in the Summer and this last Fall. He said he has no back pain. He has been able to do everything he did before the surgery. We have had two follow-up visits (6 month/1 yr) and both visits the curve looks better and the cord is looking good. He does have scars ("battle wounds") – one on middle back area and a couple on his sides.

We went to Mayo for the surgery (also live close). Our surgeon was great she explained everything very well. And was upfront with what they didn't know at the time. Shared publications for us to review. We talked about how many VBT surgeries Mayo has done and outcomes, the fact it was not fully FDA approved. She referenced meetings that she regularly has with other physicians around the country where they meet just to talk about VBT. Our biggest concern was the lack of long term data. Most other questions were what happens before, during and after the surgery. We met with a team member that walked us through every step. What to expect day of, what Brady would be going through, what happens in the hospital, when we first get home, etc. After recovery limitations – we were told none – if it hurts take a break, try again and if it still hurts don't do that. So far we have seen no limitations.

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Thank you very much for responding. I am glad to hear your son is doing well and has no limitations. My daughter is very scared as I can imagine. But, she knows this will help her in the long term so she is ok with it. She is mostly concerned of the pain. I will need to find out more details of the chest tube, catheter, etc. I don't want to scare her but I also want to make her aware of what is happening. I imagine the doctors will be able to explain everything. Can I ask who your surgeon was at Mayo?

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Sorry, looks like my post didn't go through. We had Dr. A. Noelle Larson. Brady said the chest tube was causing most pain and felt better once that was out. There is a shot they do right after surgery in the spine to help with pain that lasts greater than 24 hours. I think that helped. He said once home he was not in too much pain but was frustrated with not being able to bend or twist during the recovery weeks – he would forget at times.

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@1toddfamily

Sorry, looks like my post didn't go through. We had Dr. A. Noelle Larson. Brady said the chest tube was causing most pain and felt better once that was out. There is a shot they do right after surgery in the spine to help with pain that lasts greater than 24 hours. I think that helped. He said once home he was not in too much pain but was frustrated with not being able to bend or twist during the recovery weeks – he would forget at times.

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Thank you for your response. I have put in a request to see Dr. Larson. I heard she has done wonderful work with VBT.

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Good. I hope it works out. Keep us posted.

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I just wanted to comment on pain management after spine surgery. I have seen many young patients undergo scoliosis surgery over the years. 40 years ago or so they started to treat pain before it became noticed by the patient. Meds were only given as needed initially. There was the concern that it would cause a drug habit.
Surgery recovery improved when pain meds were given on a regular basis, before pain was noticed.
Anyone going through spine surgery should talk to their surgeon about the pain control protocol.

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Hello @shiasmom. I wanted to check back with you on the progress of your request for an appointment for your daughter to see Dr. Larson. Please update us when you can!

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