A. Baroncini, F. Migliorini, J. Eschweiler, F. Hildebrand, P. Trobisch

July 2022, pp 1 - 6 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-022-07321-9

First Online: 21 July 2022

The timing of tether breakage influences clinical results after VBT


Tether breakage is a frequent mechanical complications after vertebral body tethering (VBT), but not all patients with a breakage show loss of correction. The reason of this clinical finding has not yet been clarified. We hypothesized that the integrity of the tether is relevant only in the early stages after VBT, when it drives growth modulation and tissue remodelling. After these mechanisms have taken place, the tether loses its function and a breakage will not alter the new shape of the spine. Thus, tether breakage would have a greater clinical relevance when occurring shortly after surgery.


All consecutive patients who underwent VBT and had a min. 2-year follow-up were included. The difference in curve magnitude between the 1st standing x-ray and the last follow-up was calculated (ΔCobb). For each curve, the presence and timing of tether breakage were recorded. The curves were grouped according to if and when the breakage was observed (no breakage, breakage at 0–6 months, 6–12 months, > 12 months). The ΔCobb was compared among these groups with the analysis of variance (ANOVA).


Data from 152 curves were available: 68 with no breakage, 12 with a breakage at 0–6 months, 37 at 6–12 months and 35 > 12 months. The ANOVA found significant difference in the ΔCobb among the groups (Sum of square 2553.59; degree of freedom 3; mean of square 851.1; Fisher test 13.8; P < 0.0001). Patients with no breakage or breakage at > 12 months had similar ΔCobb (mean 4.8° and 7.8°, respectively, P = 0.3), smaller than the 0–6 or 6–12 groups (15.8° and 13.8°, respectively).


Tether breakage leads to a consistent loss of correction when occurring within the first 12 months, while it has limited clinical relevance when occurring later on.

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