Curve Modulation and Apex Migration Using Shilla Growth Guidance Rods for Early-onset Scoliosis at 5-Year Follow-up

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Abstract

Background:

The Shilla procedure was designed to correct and control early-onset spinal deformity while harnessing a child’s remaining spinal growth. It allows for controlled axial skeletal growth within the construct, avoiding the need for frequent surgeries to lengthen implants. We hypothesized that curve characteristics evolve over time after initial apex fusion and placement of the Shilla implants. The purpose of this study was to identify trends in curve evolution after Shilla implantation and understand how these changes influence ultimate outcome.

Methods:

A single-center, retrospective review of all patients with Shilla implants in place for ≥5 years yielded 21 patients. Charts and radiographs were reviewed to compare coronal curve characteristics preoperatively, postoperatively, and at last follow-up to note changes in the apex of the primary curve. Also noted were the development of adjacent compensatory curves, the overall vertical spinal growth, and the need for definitive spinal fusion once skeletal maturity was reached.

Results:

Of the 21 patients, the curve apex migrated caudally in 12 patients (57%) and cephalad in 1 patient (5%), with a mean migration of 2.7 vertebral levels. Two patients (10%) developed new, significant compensatory curves (1 caudal and 1 cephalad). All patients demonstrated spinal growth in T1-S1 length following index surgery (mean, 45 mm). At skeletal maturity, 10 patients underwent definitive posterior spinal fusion and instrumentation, and 3 underwent implant removal alone.

Conclusions:

This study constitutes the longest follow-up of Shilla patients evaluating curve and implant behavior. Results of this review suggest that the apex of the fused primary curve shifts in approximately 62% of patients, with nearly all of these (92%) involving a distal migration. Compensatory curves did develop after Shilla placement as well. Overall, these findings represent adding-on distal to the apex after Shilla instrumentation rather than a crankshaft phenomenon about the apex. A better understanding of spinal growth mechanics and outcomes after Shilla placement may improve our ability to appropriately select patients and instrumentation levels.

Level of Evidence:

Level III.

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