Putative height acceleration following tethered cord release in children

Kimberly A. Foster*, Sandi Lam, Yimo Lin, Stephanie Greene

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Object. Tethered cord (TC) is a neurological disorder caused by tissue attachments that limit the normal movement of the spinal cord. A TC can be unmasked by a cutaneous abnormality or manifest clinically in myriad neurological, urological, and orthopedic symptoms. The relationship between TC and height is previously unknown. This study investigates the association between TC release and changes in height profiles in the pediatric population. Methods. Fifty-two children undergoing first-time TC release at a single institution were examined retrospectively. Clinical symptoms, radiographic findings, pre-and postoperative height, and height-for-age percentiles were recorded and analyzed. Results. Children with TC experienced a statistically significant increase in age-adjusted height percentiles after TC release (p = 0.0028), with a mean increase of 7 percentile points (from 48.1st to 54.9th percentile). When stratified by age, children 5 years or older (5-18 years) demonstrated a mean percentile increase of 10 percentile points (from 46.7th to 56.4th percentile) (p = 0.0001). Among the same age group, this effect scaled significantly with age (p = 0.02, beta coefficient-1.3). There was no significant difference in height-for-age after detethering surgery in children younger than 5 years. There was no significant association between the presence of clinical symptoms or specific radiographic findings and height outcomes after surgery. Overall, 56% of TC-related clinical symptoms improved after detethering (mean follow-up 4.6 months). Among children younger than 5 years, 82% of TC-related clinical symptoms improved after detethering (average follow-up 4.5 months); in children 5-18 years, 47% of symptoms improved after detethering (average follow-up 4.8 months). Conclusions. The authors observed a statistically significant gain in height-for-age percentiles in children undergoing surgical release of TC. The authors' data suggest that such gains may be more significant in older children (? 5 years) and the increase appears to scale positively with youth in the older cohort. In this study, postoperative height gains did not appear to correlate with the presence of TC-related clinical symptoms or radiographic findings. Further investigation is necessary to elucidate any potential correlation between release of TC and height changes in children postoperatively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)626-634
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2014


  • Growth spurt
  • Height
  • Spine
  • Tethered cord release
  • Tethered cord syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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