Just4Children are fundraising for a pioneering surgical technique called VBT (Vertebral Body Tethering) to treat 13 year old Amber for severe scoliosis.
Unexpectedly, after Christmas, we noticed a sudden change in the shape of Amber’s back. We were really worried, so sought advice from our GP and specialist spinal surgeons who diagnosed her with severe adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (curvature of the spine).
We were advised that treatment on the NHS for her double curvature is full spinal fusion. Her thoracic T4 to lumbar L4 would have to be fused using screws, titanium rods and bone grafts to fuse the vertebrae, making it one solid inflexible bone. As parents we were devastated by this news.
Further advice and research lead us to a new cutting-edge, non-fusion technique called VBT (Vertebral Body Tethering) which straightens the spine by applying internal tethers, meaning no loss of spinal flexibility. First used in 2011, this technique is FDA approved in America, and approved in Europe since 2017. It uses a flexible screw cord/tether system attached to the curves of the spine, reducing them by up to 50% during surgery with further reduction during the patient’s natural growth.
Amber meets VBT’s strict criteria for bone growth as she is very flexible and still growing. She needs the operation soon to help reduce her curves while she is growing. The technique is less invasive than fusion, carries fewer risks of blood loss and paralysis, has a much faster recovery time and, unlike fusion, doesn’t appear to cause degenerative disc disease. Most importantly, Amber’s back will be able to retain the movement and flexibility she needs.
This surgery is not available on the NHS and we have chosen to have the surgery in Germany by a top spinal paediatric surgeon. Without surgery Amber’s curves will continue to progress quickly, adversely affecting internal organs, movement and life expectancy. Amber will most likely undergo this surgery in June, Covid-19 permitting, to give her the best possible outcome and quality of life.
Thank you for your support.