Early-onset scoliosis (EOS) is not uncommon in patients with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1). Despite conservative treatment, spinal deformities progress and require early surgical intervention. To avoid potential interference with chest and trunk growth, growing rods (GRs) have been used effectively in EOS of various etiologies. In this study the authors sought to analyze the outcomes of GRs in EOS patients with NF1.
This was a retrospective single-center cohort study that included consecutive EOS patients with NF1 who were treated with GRs and were followed up for a minimum of 2 years. Clinical and radiological analyses were performed preoperatively and until the last follow-up.
From to 2008 to 2017, 18 patients (6 male, 12 female) underwent GR surgery (14 single GRs, 4 dual GRs) at a mean age of 8 ± 2.1 years. Mean follow-up was 5 ± 2.4 years. Fifty-five lengthenings were performed at a mean rate of 3 lengthenings per patient (range 0–7). Ten of 14 single GRs (71%) were converted into dual GRs during treatment. No patient underwent definitive posterior spinal fusion (PSF) at GR treatment completion. The mean initial and last follow-up major curves were 57° and 36°, respectively (p < 0.001, 37% correction). The average T1–S1 increase was 13 mm/yr. Six of 9 hyperkyphotic patients had normal kyphosis at last follow-up. There were 26 complications involving 13 patients (72%), with 1 patient who required unplanned revision. The primary complications were instrumentation related, consisting of 17 proximal hook dislodgments, 6 distal pedicle screw pullouts, and 2 rod fractures. Only 1 patient experienced a mechanical complication after dual GR implantation. There were no wound infections.
The GR technique provided satisfactory spinal deformity control in EOS patients with NF1 while allowing substantial spinal growth. Adequately contoured dual GRs with proximal hooks placed in nondystrophic regions should be used to minimize implant-related complications. Surgeons should not attempt to correct kyphosis at GR implantation.