Sebastian Lippross, Antonia Grages, Katja A. Lueders, Lena Braunschweig, Friederike Austein, Konstantinos Tsaknakis, Heiko M. Lorenz, Anna K. Hell

February 2021, pp 1 - 7 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-021-06775-7

First Online: 22 February 2021


Growth-friendly spinal implants (GFSI) were established for scoliotic children as an interim solution until definite spinal fusion could be performed during puberty. While deformity control was clearly proven, the effects on vertebral shape and morphology are still unclear. Our prospective study assesses the effect of GFSI with continuous distraction on vertebral body shape and volume in SMA children in comparison with previously untreated age-matched SMA patients.


Cohort I (n = 19, age 13.2 years) were SMA patients without prior surgical scoliosis treatment. Cohort II (n = 24, age 12.4 years) were children, who had continuous spinal distraction with GFSI for 4.5 years. Radiographic measurements and computed tomography (CT) 3D volume rendering were performed before definite spinal fusion. For cohort II, additional radiographs were analyzed before the first surgical implantation of GFSI, after surgery and every year thereafter.


Our analysis revealed decreased depth and volume in scoliotic patients with prior GFSI compared to scoliotic patients without prior implants. This difference was significant for the lower thoracic and entire lumbar spine. Vertebral body height and pedicle size were unchanged between the two cohorts.


CT data showed volume reduction in the vertebral body in scoliotic children after GFSI treatment. This effect was more severe in the lumbar and lower thoracic area. While vertebral height was identical in both groups, vertebral depth was reduced in the GFSI-treated group. Reduced vertebral depth and altered vertebral morphology should be considered before instrumenting the spine in previously treated scoliotic SMA children.

Level of evidence III

Diagnostic: individual cross-sectional studies with consistently applied reference standard and blinding.

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