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Titanium Ribs Help Children with Scoliosis

Titanium Ribs Help Children with Scoliosis

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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Ed Yeates ReportingSurgeons gathered in Salt Lake today to see a nine-year old boy, who should have been in a wheelchair, walking and doing pushups. The doctors are here from all over the country learning how to implant a new FDA approved titanium rib in kids with severe scoliosis.

It’s something hard to believe -- Braydon Burns doing pushups at Primary Children's Hospital. Severe scoliosis should have already mapped out a tragic destiny for this nine-year old.

Carmell Burns, Braydon's Mom: “Our pediatrician told us that Braydon would likely be wheelchair bound by age five and be oxygen dependent. And by adulthood he would be ventilator dependent.”

But this boy walks straight as an arrow because orthopedic surgeons implanted titanium ribs, as they're called, two years ago.

In Braydon's case the titanium devices are in two parts -- one attached to the rib cage to keep the ribs open, pressure away from the lungs, the other from the rib cage to the spine. And there are brackets which allow for adjustment.

Braydon has had six outpatient adjustments so far. The bars are manually stretched to match the child's growth. All the while, the spine is forced to grow straight and the lungs develop normally.

Braydon Burns: “I can actually run to my class when my class is coming in for recess.”

Visiting surgeons practiced at tables on plastic mockups, learning how to do the implants. The FDA requires this kind of instruction at centers that completed the original clinical trials. Primary Children's was one of them.

John Smith, M.D., Orthopedic Surgery, PCMC: “Ultimately our goal is to have a self-expanding device that will make it so these children don’t have to have repetitive surgeries. And that’s really our focus for the next few years, is to work on that.”

Braydon Burns: “Hopefully I’ll continue to get better and better. It feels very good.”

Good, even more for Braydon when the ribs are removed at age seventeen, his repair complete.

Eight medical centers, including Primary Children's, have implanted the device in more than 300 scoliosis children so far.

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