Patient-specific Distraction Regimen to Avoid Growth-rod Failure

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Study Design.

A finite element study to establish the relationship between patient's curve flexibility (determined using curve correction under gravity) in juvenile idiopathic scoliosis and the required distraction frequency to avoid growth rod fracture, as a function of time.


To perform a parametric analysis using a juvenile scoliotic spine model (single mid-thoracic curve with the apex at the eighth thoracic vertebra) and establish the relationship between curve flexibility (determined using curve correction under gravity) and the distraction interval that allows a higher factor of safety for the growth rods.

Summary of Background Data.

Previous studies have shown that frequent distraction with smaller magnitude of distractions are less likely to result in rod failure. However there has not been any methodology or a chart provided to apply this knowledge on to the individual patients that undergo the treatment. This study aims to fill in that gap.


The parametric study was performed by varying the material properties of the disc, hence altering the axial stiffness of the scoliotic spine model. The stresses on the rod were found to increase with increased axial stiffness of the spine, and this resulted in the increase of required optimal frequency to achieve a factor of safety of two for growth rods.


A relationship between the percentage correction in Cobb's angle due to gravity alone, and the required distraction interval for limiting the maximum von Mises stress to 255 MPa on the growth rods was established. The distraction interval required to limit the stresses to the selected nominal value reduces with increase in stiffness of the spine. Furthermore, the appropriate distraction interval reduces for each model as the spine becomes stiffer with time (autofusion). This points to the fact the optimal distraction frequency is a time-dependent variable that must be achieved to keep the maximum von Mises stress under the specified factor of safety.


The current study demonstrates the possibility of translating fundamental information from finite element modeling to the clinical arena, for mitigating the occurrence of growth rod fracture, that is, establishing a relationship between optimal distraction interval and curve flexibility (determined using curve correction under gravity).


Level of Evidence: N/A

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