Spine Division

Comprehensive care for the spine

The Spine Division at Boston Children’s Hospital is the largest and busiest pediatric spine center in the United States. Our spine specialists see thousands of spine patients and perform hundreds of spine surgeries each year. We collaborate regularly with the Department of Neurosurgery to provide safe, customized care for even the most complex spine problems. For children with an injury or deformity of the neck or upper spine, Boston Children’s also offers the Complex Cervical Spine Program. Our Spine and Sports Program treats spine conditions and injuries that affect the young athlete. 

Learn about our patients

“To find two doctors who treated this before and then to see our son doing so well is tremendously gratifying.”

 

Why choose the Spine Division at Boston Children’s Hospital?

Few hospitals in the world see as many pediatric patients with scoliosis and other spinal problems as our Spine Division. The experts in our comprehensive program care for children and young adults with a wide array of spinal problems.

Our specialties include: 

Boston Children’s commitment to non-invasive care for spine problems

With early intervention, the majority of our patients are treated successfully with bracing and other non-invasive treatments. The most widely used brace for scoliosis, the Boston Brace, was developed at Boston Children’s more than 40 years ago. Today, we continue to work tirelessly to further improve non-surgical treatments for scoliosis and other spine disorders. Multiple brace options are available as well as consultation with physical therapists trained in the Schroth method.

Boston Children’s commitment to quality and safety in surgical spine care

Drawing on our expertise in spinal fusion and instrumentation, we customize treatment to each individual patient. Our goal with every surgical patient is to perform the highest quality surgery while maintaining and fostering a culture of safety.

Our surgical team includes surgeons, anesthesiologists, and nurses with specific skills and expertise in spine surgery. Each member of the team plays a role in ensuring quality and safety before, during and after surgery. 

Boston Children’s innovative use of technology 

Our surgical team works continuously to improve clinical care and outcomes for patients with spinal issues. We are at the forefront of adopting emerging technologies proven to increase the safety of spinal surgery. 

Advanced technologies we use include: 

  • Mazor X Stealth robotic navigation - Boston Children’s is one of the first pediatric hospitals in the world to use this robotic guidance system with real-time CT scanning for spine surgeries. This is particularly helpful when the patient is very small or has a severe spine deformity. 
  • O-arm intraoperative CT scanning, which allows surgical teams to confirm the appropriate position of spinal instrumentation. This minimizes neurologic risk or the need for revision surgery. 
  • Vertical Expandable Prosthetic Titanium Rib (VEPTR™) for treatment of thoracic insufficiency syndrome in skeletally immature patients. 
  • MAGnetic Expansion Control (MAGEC) System, an adjustable growing rod system that uses magnetic technology and a remote control to non-invasively lengthen the device. When used in certain patients, the device can reduce the number of surgeries necessary to correct spinal deformities. 

Services for Boston Children’s patients as they prepare for spine surgery

For our patients and their families facing spine surgery for scoliosis, our SIMPeds program provides a preview of each aspect of the surgical experience, starting with pre-surgical planning and continuing all the way through post-surgical recovery. Offered in the spring and summer, SIMPeds gives patients and their families the opportunity to take a tour of our simulation laboratory and meet many of the clinicians they might encounter on the day of surgery. Many of our patients tell us that the realistic set up of the surgical unit and ability to ask questions helped them feel more in control and empowered about their upcoming surgery. 

A role in research

As a patient at Boston Children's, Ryan contributed to research that could help patients like him for years to come.

 

Meet Ryan Zanchi, a scoliosis patient and participant in research about spinal surgery at Boston Children

Research and leadership in improving care for spine problems

Experts from the Spine Division at Boston Children’s have conducted much of the research that has helped shape quality and safety guidelines that spine centers around the country follow. Through our participation in the following study groups, we continue to help set standards for spinal care around the country:

  • The Harms Study Group, an international group of surgeons dedicated to the advancement of treatment of children and adolescents with spinal deformities. Among its many active projects, the Scoliosis Outcomes Database Registry is the largest prospective database for idiopathic scoliosis in the world. More than 45 abstracts are presented and 15 peer-reviewed publications are produced every year based on this database. 
  • The Pediatric Cervical Spine Study Group, a collaborative national group of surgeons with expertise in managing cervical spine disorders in children. 
  • CORTICES, a national study group whose mission is to improve the orthopedic trauma care of children, including children with spinal trauma. 
  • The Complex Spine Study Group, a multi-center study of patients undergoing surgical treatment of a spinal disease or deformity.