Scoliosis Awareness Month – VBT vs ASC

VBT (Vertebral Body Tethering) vs ASC

Scoliosis is a condition where the spine has a lateral curvature. The curve is usually C or S shaped with a 3D rotation. Scoliosis affects up to 2-3% people in the USA with varying degrees of severity. A curve of >50 degrees is seen as severe and in most cases doctors prefer to do surgery to help in the correction of the curve. For many years, spinal fusion was the surgical option in correcting scoliosis, but in recent years a new and improved procedure is prefered – known as tethering.

There are two procedures of spinal tethering known as Anterior Scoliosis Correction (ASC) and Vertebral Body Tethering (VBT), the only difference is the eligibility criteria. With this approach the straightening of the curve is done by using a “rope like” cord or rod that is pulled tight to straighten the curve and adjusts as the individual grows. Unlike using a rod and performing a spinal fusion (known as the gold standard approach to correcting adolescent scoliosis), this approach is minimally invasive, and protects muscle for quicker recovery as well as preserves growth, flexibility, and may result in continuous correction of the spine over time while not stiffening the spine.

The eligibility criteria for VBT and ASC.

  VBT ASC
Curve 40-65 degrees YES YES
Flexible Curves YES YES
Growing Spine YES YES
Curves over 65 degrees NO YES
Stiff Curves NO YES
Mature Adolescents NO YES
Adult Curves NO YES
Complex Curves NO YES