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Jordanian teen receives ‘rope-made spine’, first of its kind in MENA region

LONDON: In a pioneering operation in Dubai, a Jordanian teenager has received a new rope spine, making her the first recipient of the surgery in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Salma Naser Navaseh, 13, underwent vertebral body tethering (VBT) surgery last week, in which a piece of rope went down the entire length of her spine.

Screws are then inserted into each part of the spine to help create the proper tension on the rope and correct the curve.

VBT is currently practiced in only a few countries, including the US, France and Germany, but this is the first time surgery has been performed in the MENA region.

Salma is already recovering remarkably after the operation at Burjeel Hospital in Dubai. Not only is she back to walking, but she also plans to return to tennis soon.

In April 2022, Salma’s parents first noticed a curve in her spine, and she was later diagnosed with scoliosis – a spinal condition characterized by an abnormal lateral curve.

Although it may appear in infancy or early childhood, the primary age of onset of scoliosis is between the ages of 10–15 years.

While most cases are mild and do not require aggressive treatment, untreated moderate to severe scoliosis can cause pain, increased deformity, and potential heart and lung problems.

Salma with a thoracolumbar curve of 65 degrees is a Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon at Burjeel Hospital, Dr. Introduced Firas Husn. Her condition caused a shortening of the trunk, a hunchback of the lower back, an uneven pelvis and a deformity of the back with back pain.

“Juvenile idiopathic scoliosis is the most common type and is usually diagnosed during puberty,” says Dr. Husn said.

“There are three treatment options for such patients- observation, bracing or surgery. While bracing is an option in patients with mild forms of scoliosis, in Salma’s case, she needed surgery to correct the deformity.” he added. .

In 2019, the USFDA approved VBT; A minimally invasive technique that allows for continuous development without fusion while maintaining speed and flexibility.

The new treatment allows for fusionless spinal correction, allowing the patient to regain full range of motion and move. Other benefits include fewer visible incisions, less trauma, fewer complications, and faster healing. Despite being a newer treatment, the cost of VBT is on par with other scoliosis treatments.

Not every patient with scoliosis is a candidate for VBT. This would ideally be done on children above the age of nine and who are still growing.

In addition, the procedure is most effective in patients with a 45 to 65 degree curve.

Doctors said Salma was an “ideal candidate” for the procedure because she had not yet reached full skeletal maturity.

Dr. Husban said: “In this surgery, unlike spinal surgery, which involves making cuts in the back and manipulating the spinal cord and nerve roots, we make a discreet incision in the abdomen through an endoscope.

“Since VBT is minimally invasive, there is little trauma to the delicate tissues of your back. As a result, there is less blood loss, less postoperative pain, and a faster recovery time than spinal fusion surgery.” Dr. Husn said that Salma’s spine will continue to improve, and the tether will guide the growth of the spine as the body grows.

“The patient is recovering after the surgery. After two weeks, Salma can go back to school. After four weeks she can return to full activity without any restrictions and start playing sports.”

Salma’s parents are very happy with this result.

“She started walking the second day after the surgery. We are glad that our daughter was eligible for this surgery. We hope that our daughter will be able to hold the racket again and resume tennis,” she said in a statement released by the hospital. Told.