Vertical Expandable Prosthetic Titanium Rib Device
Children's Hospital & Medical Center is one of a handful of medical centers in the country that implant the innovative VEPTR (Vertical Expandable Prosthetic Titanium Rib) device. Children's physicians have become one of the nation's leaders in using the device to treat certain conditions such as scoliosis or thoracic insufficiency syndrome (TIS). TIS is a congenital condition in which severe deformities of the chest, spine and ribs prevent normal lung development.
The VEPTR procedure is performed by implanting an expandable metal rod that is curved to fit the back of the chest and spine, using hooks located at both ends of the device.
The VEPTR is superior to traditional surgeries to treat congenital scoliosis because it is designed to give the ribcage room to grow in children who suffer from chest wall and/or spine defects. The VEPTR device helps straighten the spine while also separating the ribs to allow the lungs to develop and fill with enough air to improve the child's breathing capacity. In addition, the length of the device can be adjusted as the patient grows.
With more traditional spinal fusion surgery, the non-expanding metal rods and screws stop the spine from getting worse - but they also essentially stop the spine from growing.
Without some form of corrective surgery, children with severe scoliosis and related conditions can develop serious and potentially fatal breathing problems due to inhibited lung growth. While most VEPTR patients will eventually need spinal fusion surgery as a more definitive correction of their scoliosis, the VEPTR procedure provides a short-term solution that allows children to continue to develop and for sufficient growth of their spine and lungs.