By: 12 October 2017
Scottish surgeons hope to become first in UK to use new technique to treat twisted spines

The Scottish National Spine Deformity Service (SNSDS), based at NHS Lothian, currently offers spinal fusion operations to patients whose curvature is not corrected by an external brace.

This involves using metal rods to produce a straightening of the spine.

The operation has been proven to correct the spine and prevent progression of the condition, but it can limit flexibility and movement.

The new technique, Anterior Vertebral Body Tethering (AVBT), has been pioneered at the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Philadelphia.

Enrique Garrido, one of the spinal surgeons from the Scottish National Spine Deformity Service, visited the hospital to learn how to perform the procedure.

He said: “This is, for the first time, a technique where we can control the spine, hopefully, and produce a gradual correction of the spine without a functionally limiting procedure, which is what a fusion operation is. It will be less invasive in terms of preserving some spine movement.”

Instead of metal rods, the US team puts in a flexible band and pegs to straighten the back.

Mr Garrido said: “This is the first time we have seen self-correction of the spine. So you inhibit growth on the one side of the spine so it will catch up and straighten out, sometimes to the extent it will over-correct and goes the other way.”

He said the Edinburgh doctors already had the skills but health experts needed to decide whether it was the right procedure.

Source: BBC Scotland