Vertical expandable prosthetic titanium rib device insertion: does it improve pulmonary function?

Journal of pediatric surgery

PubMedID: 21238644

Gadepalli SK, Hirschl RB, Tsai WC, Caird MS, Vanderhave KL, Strouse PJ, Drongowski RA, Farley FA. Vertical expandable prosthetic titanium rib device insertion: does it improve pulmonary function?. J Pediatr Surg. 2011;46(1):77-80.
Vertical expandable prosthetic titanium rib (VEPTR) insertion and expansion has been advocated to increase thoracic volume and pulmonary function in patients with thoracic insufficiency syndrome. We reviewed our experience with VEPTR implantation to determine if lung function and growth is augmented, to determine the children's functional status, and if the scoliosis is controlled.

From 2006 to 2010, 29 insertions and 57 expansions were performed in 26 patients at our institution. Demographic data were reviewed in conjunction with complications, scoliosis angles, pulmonary function tests (PFTs), and computed tomography-guided 3D reconstructions to determine lung volumes; and quality of life scores were determined using a modified Scoliosis Research Society (SRS) questionnaire preoperatively and postoperatively. The groups were also stratified by age (because of lung growth potential), disease (congenital or infantile scoliosis, Jeune syndrome, neuromuscular, other structural thoracic disorders), and sex. Analyses using SPSS (SPSS, Chicago, Ill) were performed with P < .05 considered significant.

Each patient underwent 3.03 ± 1.8 surgeries, spending 0.97 ± 1.8 days in the intensive care unit and 4.41 ± 6 days in the hospital for each procedure. Mean age was 90.7 ± 41 months. Of the 36 complications, most were because of infection (12), half requiring operative repair (hardware removal). The average PFT percent predicted values for forced expiratory volume in 1 second, forced vital capacity, and RV were 54.6 ± 22, 58.1 ± 24, and 145.3 ± 112, respectively, preoperatively and 51.8 ± 20, 55.9 ± 20, and 105.6 ± 31, respectively, postoperatively. The lung volumes measured by computed tomography when corrected for age do not increase significantly postoperatively. The mean Cobb measurement for the preoperative major curves was 64.7° and postoperatively was 46.1° for those curves measured preoperatively, for a 29% curve improvement. All postoperative curves had a mean of 56.4° and 58.1° at final follow-up, a 3% curve increase. The SRS scores for patients remained unchanged and no statistical difference was seen from preoperative to postoperative values. No statistically significant difference was seen in complications, PFT (forced expiratory volume in 1 second, forced vital capacity, RV), lung volumes, scoliosis angles, and SRS scores between sex, age, and disease categories.

There was mild improvement in scoliosis angles but no improvement in lung function and volume. Scoliosis Research Society scores indicate that the children have near normal function both before and after VEPTR placement. Pulmonary function, lung volume, and patient subjective assessments did not increase dramatically after VEPTR placement, although scoliosis angles improved.