Drain options after vertebral body tethering

Harms Study Group Investigators

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: Since the introduction of vertebral body tethering (VBT) for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS), a variety of post-operative chest drainage systems have been utilized. Most surgeons use formal chest tubes with a Pleur-evac, while others use smaller bulb suction drains (e.g., Blake drain). In addition, some centers utilize pleural closure. This multicenter study evaluates whether drain type or pleural closure impact perioperative and 90 day complication rates. Methods: A retrospective review was conducted from three institutions with established VBT programs. All preoperative, perioperative and 90 day postoperative data were analyzed to determine differences in outcomes between three cohorts: standard chest tube (SCT), standard chest tube with pleural closure (SCTPC) and 10 French Bulb drain (BD). Results: 104 patients were identified for the study. 57 SCT, 25 SCTPC and 22 BD. All data are listed in order: SCT, SCTPC, BD. Length of stay (3.7, 4.3, 3.0 days) was less in the BD group (p = 0.009); post-operative drainage (460, 761, 485 cc) was less in the SCT and BD groups (p < 0.001); intra-operative estimated blood loss (EBL) 146, 382, 64 cc was less in the BD group (p < 0.001). No significant difference in number of days (3.2, 3.2, and 2.8 days) drainage was in place, groups (p = 0.311). Complication profile was similar with 2 chest tube reinsertions in the SCT and one hemothorax that resolved spontaneously in BD group. Conclusions: In this series of 104 patients, SCT, SCTPC and BD all had a similar safety profile. All three methods were safe and effective in managing post-operative chest drainage after thoracic VBT. In the series, BD group had significantly shorter LOS than both groups that used chest tubes. Level of evidence: Level III, Retrospective cohort study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-372
Number of pages6
JournalSpine Deformity
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS)
  • Bulb drain
  • Pleural closure
  • Standard chest tube (SCT)
  • Vertebral body tethering (VBT)


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