The use of traction in the treatment of severe spinal deformity

Paul D. Sponseller, Ryan K. Takenaga, Peter Newton, Oheneba Boachie, Jack Flynn, Lynn Letko, Randal Betz, Keith Bridwell, Munish Gupta, Michelle Marks, Tracey Bastrom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


Study Design. Multicenter, retrospective, nonrandomized comparison group study of patients with severe scoliosis and kyphosis treated after 1995 with halo-gravity traction and without halo-gravity traction before definitive fusion. Objective. Compare surgical correction of severe spine deformity with preoperative halo traction and without preoperative traction. Summary of Background Data. Prior studies have demonstrated that halo traction is a safe, well-tolerated method of applying gradual, sustained traction to maximize operative correction in patients with severe idiopathic scoliosis (IS) and kyphosis. However, these studies lack a comparison control group and study only a relatively small number of patients with IS. Methods. Fifty-three patients with severe scoliosis or kyphosis were studied using hospital records, standing preoperative, traction, postoperative, and final radiographs. Thirty were treated with traction and 23 were treated without traction. Patients within each group were analyzed based on demographics, diagnosis, perioperative, and radiographic data. In addition, patients were evaluated based on diagnosis, specifically whether patients had adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Results. Within the entire study population, there was no statistically significant difference in main coronal curve correction (62% vs. 59%), operative time, blood loss, and total complication rate (27% vs. 52%). However, the nontraction group underwent vertebral column resection more often (30% vs. 3%, P = 0.015). The traction group had a statistically significant increase in average hospital stay (36 vs. 14 days) (P = 0.011). Analysis of the 23 patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis also showed no statistically significant differences in curve correction, blood loss, or complications. Conclusion. Our study shows that patients with halo traction less frequently had a vertebral body resection, but achieved comparable deformity correction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2305-2309
Number of pages5
Issue number21
StatePublished - Oct 1 2008


  • Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis
  • Halo traction
  • Kyphosis
  • Scoliosis


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