Growth-friendly spinal instrumentation in marfan syndrome achieves sustained gains in thoracic height amidst high rates of implant failure

Pediatric Spine Study Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background:There are few reports on the surgical management of early-onset scoliosis (EOS) associated with Marfan syndrome (MFS). Affected patients tend to have more rapid curve progression than those with idiopathic EOS, and their course is further complicated by medical comorbidities. As surgical techniques and implants for growing spines become more widely applied, this study seeks to better delineate the safety and efficacy of growth-friendly spinal instrumentation in treating this population.Methods:A prospective registry of children treated for EOS was queried for MFS patients treated between 1996 and 2016. Forty-two patients underwent rib-based or spine-based growing instrumentation and were assessed on preoperative, surgical, and postoperative clinical and radiographic parameters including complications and reoperations. Subgroup analysis was performed based on spine-based versus rib-based fixation.Results:Patients underwent their index surgery at a mean age of 5.5 years, when the major coronal curve and kyphosis measured 77 and 50 degrees, respectively. Over half were treated with traditional growing rods. Patients underwent 7.2 total surgical procedures-4.7 lengthening and 1.9 revision surgeries not including conversion to fusion-over a follow-up of 6.5 (±4.1) years. Radiographic correction was greatest at index surgery but maintained over time, with a final thoracic height measuring 23.8 cm. Patients experienced a mean of 2.6 complications over the course of the study period; however, a small group of 6 patients experienced ≥6 complications while over half of patients experienced 0 or 1. Implant failures represented 42% of all complications with infection and pulmonary complications following.Conclusions:This is the largest report on patients with EOS and MFS. All subtypes of growth-friendly constructs reduced curve progression in this cohort, but complications and reoperations were nearly universal; patients were particularly plagued by implant failure and migration. Further collaborations are needed to enhance understanding of optimal timing and fixation constructs for those with MFS and other connective tissue diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e204-e210
JournalJournal of Pediatric Orthopaedics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Early-onset scoliosis
  • Growing rods
  • Growth-friendly
  • Hardware failure
  • Marfan syndrome
  • Thoracic height


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