Meg Armstrong, 14, meets with John T. Braun, MD, and Brian Grottkau, MD, at a follow-up appointment for her tethering surgery.
John T. Braun, MD (left), and Brian Grottkau, MD (center), meet with patient Meg Armstrong, 14, at a follow-up appointment for tethering surgery.

How long does tethering take at the hospital?

This depends on which type of tethering your child needs. Ask the care team how long your child’s surgery may be.

  • Tether of one curve: 2-3 hours
  • Tether of two curves: 4-6 hours
  • Hybrid procedure with fusion of one curve and tether of a second curve: 4-6 hours

How long does it take for a child to recover from a tether surgery?

Most children stay in the hospital for 3 nights. Children can return to school about 2-3 weeks after surgery. They can usually return to all other activities about 3 months after surgery.

What happens if the tether breaks or becomes worn out?

Tether rupture or breakage has not been a common problem, but can occur on occasion. Tether rupture, if it does happen, usually does not cause pain or other symptoms but it can mildly change the scoliosis correction. This change is most often not big enough for your child or family to notice, but doctors can see it on x-ray. Most tether ruptures occur at one spot along the scoliosis. Therefore, most of the tether and the scoliosis correction remain intact. The most common case of tether rupture doctors may see is in a child with no specific complaints and no activity restrictions but has a slight change in scoliosis correction noted on a routine follow-up x-ray 2-5 years after surgery. Importantly, additional surgery is rarely required.

The pediatric tethering surgery team meets in an exam room.
Members of the care team for tethering surgery include (from left to right) Brian Grottkau, MD, chief of Pediatric Orthopaedics and Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgery, John T. Braun, MD, pediatric orthopaedic surgeon, and David Lawlor, MD, pediatric general surgeon.

Who is on my child’s care team?

MGfC takes a team-based approach to care to ensure your child receives the most compassionate and comprehensive (well-rounded and thorough) care possible. The following providers will be on your child’s care team throughout their care at MGfC:

Why come to MGfC for tethering?

There are many reasons to come to MGfC if your child needs tethering:

  • A team-based, family-centered approach to care. There are several people working together on your child’s care team, from doctors and surgeons to nurses and Child Life Specialists. As the family member, you are also an important member of the care team because you know your child best.
  • Treatment is personalized to meet your child’s unique medical, social, emotional and mental health needs. A multidisciplinary team also ensures your child receives the best care possible.
  • Members of the care team are experts in caring for children with scoliosis and have a greater combined experience with anterior vertebral tethering than any other center in the world. The surgical team includes John T. Braun, MD, and Brian E. Grottkau, MD, both pediatric spine and scoliosis surgeons who pioneered and developed this new treatment, and David Lawlor, MD, a pediatric surgeon with expertise in minimally invasive surgery for scoliosis and other conditions.

Rev. 2/2021. Mass General for Children and Massachusetts General Hospital do not endorse any of the brands listed on this handout. This handout is intended to provide health information so that you can be better informed. It is not a substitute for medical advice and should not be used to treatment of any medical conditions.