Growing rods for the treatment of scoliosis in children with cerebral palsy: A critical assessment

Mark J. McElroy, Paul D. Sponseller, Jonathan R. Dattilo, George H. Thompson, Behrooz A. Akbarnia, Suken A. Shah, Brian D. Snyder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


STUDY DESIGN.: Retrospective analysis. OBJECTIVE.: To evaluate, in children with cerebral palsy, the following aspects of growing rod (GR) treatment for scoliosis: structural effectiveness, effect of pelvic fixation, hospital stay duration, and complications. SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA.: Children with cerebral palsy frequently develop severe spinal deformity and pelvic obliquity (PO). Growth-preserving strategies are attractive, but comorbidities raise the risk/benefit ratio. To our knowledge, no previous studies have focused on growth-preserving spine surgery in these children. METHODS.: From our multicenter patient group, we identified 27 children with cerebral palsy treated with GRs (single rod in 4; dual rods in 23 [15 extending to the pelvis]). We collected radiographical, surgical, hospital stay, and major complication data. We compared Cobb angle and PO improvement between patients with and without pelvic instrumentation via the Student t test (significance, P = 0.05). No patient required anterior spinal fusion. RESULTS.: Average improvements for all patients (preoperative to latest follow-up) were: Cobb angle, 35° ± 23°; PO, 14°± 19°; T1-S1 length, 7.9 ± 4.4 cm; and space available for lung ratio, 0.17 ± 0.21. For the 8 patients who underwent fusion, average improvements (preoperative to postfusion) were: Cobb angle, 43°± 28°; PO, 2°± 21°; T1-S1 length, 9.5 ± 6.0 cm; and space available for lung ratio, 0.26 ± 0.28. Pelvic GR fixation produced better PO correction (P < 0.001) but similar Cobb angle correction (P = 0.556). Hospital stays averaged 8.7 ± 12.1 days after initial surgery, 1.4 ± 2.5 days after lengthening (45% were outpatient procedures), and 13.4 ± 6.2 days after fusion. The most common complication was deep wound infection (30%). CONCLUSION.: GRs via a posterior-only approach are effective. Constructs extending to the pelvis control PO more effectively. However, 30% of patients experienced deep wound infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E1504-E1510
Issue number24
StatePublished - Nov 15 2012


  • cerebral palsy
  • complication
  • growing rods
  • pelvic obliquity
  • scoliosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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