Vitamin D Deficiency in Children Undergoing Vertical Expandable Prosthetic Titanium Rib Treatment

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Vitamin D deficiency is prevalent in the pediatric population and multiple risk factors have been identified. Low vitamin D levels can result in poor bone mineralization and have been associated with a significantly higher risk of forearm fracture in children. Vitamin D deficiency has also been associated with pediatric critical illness. The purpose of this study was to determine whether children undergoing vertical expandable prosthetic titanium rib (VEPTR) treatment have low vitamin D levels.


Patients undergoing VEPTR treatment at a single institution were prospectively enrolled (VEPTR). All patients either had a diagnosis of thoracic insufficiency syndrome (TIS), or were at risk of developing TIS secondary to progressive scoliosis or chest wall deformity. Exclusion criteria were patients with rickets and patients receiving vitamin D supplementation at the time of VEPTR insertion. A group of healthy children who presented with fractures during the winter season were used as controls (FX). Vitamin D status and risk factors for vitamin D deficiency were evaluated. Vitamin D deficiency was defined as serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OH-D) <20 ng/mL and vitamin D insufficiency as serum 25-OH-D between 20 and 29 ng/mL.


Twenty-eight VEPTR and 25 FX patients were compared. The average age was 8.6 years in the VEPTR group and 9.1 years in the FX group. Twenty VEPTR patients (71%) and 19 FX patients (76%) demonstrated low vitamin D levels. The average 25-OH-D level was 27.3 ng/mL in the VEPTR group and 25.4 ng/mL in the FX group. Patient characteristics and vitamin D levels were similar between the groups. No association was found between vitamin D status and sex, race, obesity, or multivitamin use.


Low vitamin D levels are common in children undergoing VEPTR treatment. In our series, the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in this patient population was similar to reported rates in the general pediatric population. Vitamin D status should be routinely monitored in children undergoing VEPTR treatment and supplementation should be initiated if necessary.

Level of Evidence:

Prognostic level II.

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