Management of concomitant scoliosis and tethered cord syndrome in non-spina bifida pediatric population

Kaan Yaltırık*, Najib E. El Tecle, Matthew J. Pierson, Aki Puryear, Basar Atalay, Samer K. Elbabaa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: The management of concomitant scoliosis and tethered cord syndrome in the non-spina bifida pediatric population is challenging. In the present study, we evaluate the efficacy of different treatment modalities and propose a treatment plan for the management of affected patients. Methods: A systematic literature review was conducted by querying the MEDLINE, PubMed, Cochrane, EMBASE, Scopus, and Web of Science databases for papers published between January 1996 and June 2016 and reporting on concomitant scoliosis and tethered cord. We excluded animal studies, non-English papers as well as papers reporting on patients with multiple concomitant intraspinal anomalies such as spina bifida. Results: Out of 1993 articles, only 13 met our inclusion criteria. These 13 articles described six main management approaches: Observation, cord untethering only, cord untethering followed by deformity correction, simultaneous cord untethering and deformity correction, and deformity correction without untethering. Selection of the best approach is a function of the patient’s symptomatology and Cobb angle. Conclusion: We propose treatment plan for the management of patients with concomitant tethered cord syndrome and spinal deformity. Asymptomatic patients can be followed conservatively and managed as scoliosis patients with no need for untethering. Surgical management in a staged fashion seems appropriate in symptomatic patients with a Cobb angle less than 35°. In these patients, deformity can improve following untethering, thus sparing the patient the risks of surgical correction of scoliosis. Staged or non-staged cord untethering and curve correction seem to be adequate in symptomatic patients with Cobb angle >35° as these patients are likely to require both untethering and deformity correction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1899-1903
Number of pages5
JournalChild's Nervous System
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017


  • Cobb angle
  • Scoliosis
  • Tethered cord syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Neurology


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