The vertical expandable prosthetic titanium rib implant for the treatment of thoracic insufficiency syndrome associated with congenital and neuromuscular scoliosis in young children.
Expansion thoracoplasty and vertical expandable prosthetic titanium rib (VEPTR; Synthes Spine Co., West Chester, Pennsylvania, USA) implantation is a new method for the treatment of thoracic insufficiency syndrome and congenital spinal deformity in children. The longitudinal rib implant expands the thorax and indirectly corrects spinal deformity, thus allowing spinal, thoracic and probably lung growth. VEPTR has been used since 1989 in San Antonio, USA, and was introduced to Europe in 2002. This paper describes the preliminary experience with the European patients. Fifteen children with progressive scoliosis had a VEPTR implantation at a mean age of 6 years (11 months to 12 years). Nine children had thoracic insufficiency syndrome due to unilateral unsegmented bars (n = 4), absent ribs (n = 1), hemivertebrae (n = 2) or bilateral fused ribs (n = 2). Six children had severe thoracolumbar scoliosis and pelvic obliquity due to neuromuscular scoliosis. After VEPTR implantation, families and patients reported improvement of the thoracic insufficiency syndrome and better sitting abilities in the neuromuscular patients, as well as radical cosmetic improvement. There were three complications (skin breakage, lumbar hook displacement, rib fracture) after performing fifteen primary VEPTR implantations and 13 expansion surgeries in eight patients. Our experience suggests that expansion thoracoplasty and VEPTR implantation is a safe and efficient method for the treatment of thoracic insufficiency syndrome in young children with severe scoliosis.