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The Spine Care experts at Children's Mercy manage all aspects of spinal conditions in children. With more than 60 years of combined experience, our spine surgeons are ready to provide expert care for your child and their surgical needs. Our advanced practice providers (APRNs) are specially trained in pediatric orthopedics and work alongside our surgeons as a trusted resource on the team.

Your Spine Care team

Our Spine Care team, Dr. Nigel PriceDr. Richard Schwend and Dr. John Anderson work closely with other Children’s Mercy specialists, such as pediatric anesthesiologists, intensivists, rehabilitative physicians, neurosurgeons, and certified orthotists. Everyone on your child’s team is working together for the best possible outcome.


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Evaluating spinal conditions 

During a spine consultation, your child will be evaluated by a comprehensive care team. This team-based approach allows us to evaluate your child as soon as possible and start them on the path to treatment, if needed.

The iSpine Clinic is for children 10 years and over who need to be seen for an initial evaluation of their spine for scoliosis. This clinic is staffed by nurse practitioners experienced in the care of children with scoliosis.

The Spine Care team at Children’s Mercy is committed to providing outpatient spine care close to home for patients in their community. Learn about our services in Wichita.

Non-surgical services for scoliosis

We offer a full range of non-surgical treatment options for kids with scoliosis. This includes Boston bracing and the Rigo 3D brace. Physical therapy may also be part of your child's treatment plan.

Our team works very hard to prevent surgery whenever possible for children with scoliosis. We offer several customized bracing options, including Boston and Rigo Cheneau styles.

Mehta Casting is a type of body casting used with infants. The casting helps straighten the spines of young children with spinal deformities.

Managing spinal curvature in growing children

Young children's bodies and spines are still growing. We want to help their spine grow straight without fusing it and stopping the growth. For these young children, we ofter growth-friendly surgical procedures.

Growing rods help children with early-onset scoliosis to manage their curve while their spine is still growing. The Spine Care team offers a variety of spine growth procedures depending on your child's needs. These include MAGEC Rods (MAGnetic Expansion Control), traditional growing rods, Shilla growing rods and vertical Expandable Prosthetic Titanium Rib (VEPTR).

This procedure uses an innovative system of screws and tethers to straighten the spine while adolescents are still growing. We have both open and endoscopic surgical options available. This is an alternative to typical instrumentation and fusion for scoliosis.

Children with conditions of the spine and chest wall that interfere with growth and normal function may benefit from a Vertical Expandable Prosthetic Titanium Rib (VEPTR) device.

Spine surgery for spinal curvature

For children with significant spinal curvature, our surgeons provide options such as vertebral body tethering (VBT), MAGEC (magnetic adjustable) growing rods, and a Vertical Expandable Prosthetic Titanium Rib (VEPTR) device.

Spinal fusion permanently connects two or more of the vertebrae in the spine. This procedure can be done from the front (anteriorly) or back (posteriorly) and is generally only performed in children and teens who have reached skeletal maturity, meaning their bones are done growing.

Surgical Navigation for Repair of Spondylolysis

Certain types of spondylolysis may benefit by insertion through a small incision of screws used to repair the defect. Computer aided navigation is used to accurately place the screws in the lower lumbar spine.

Children's Mercy is an American College of Surgeons Verified Center

Highest Level of Surgical Care

Children’s Mercy is one of only 10 centers in the nation to be verified as a Level 1 Children’s Surgery Center — the highest possible rating — by the American College of Surgeons. 

Common Conditions

  • Back pain in children and adolescents—while not as common as in adults it can be a source of concern for parents. Depending on the symptoms and signs, the diagnosis and treatment can vary considerably. Often the diagnosis can be made with a thorough history and physical and minimal x-rays. Some children, particularly younger children, presenting with severe pain—particularly at night—require and MRI and lab testing.

  • Scoliosis

    • Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis—a curvature of the spine that is typically detected after the age of 10. It can worsen (progression of the curve) and need treatment. The medical provider may recommend observation, exercises, bracing or surgery.
    • Congenital scoliosis—a form of scoliosis where the child had an abnormal vertebra or multiple vertebrae at birth. While many can remain stable, some slowly worsen and can require surgery which is often done before school age.
    • Early onset scoliosis—a curvature of the spine that occurs or is detected before the age of 8-10 years of age.
    • Kyphosis — roundback deformities related to posture and excessive weight. 
    • Neuromuscular scoliosis—a complex form of spine curvature seen in children with nerve and muscles disorders such as cerebral palsy, Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy, Spinal Muscular atrophy, Rett’s syndrome and many more. The curves can become quite severe at an early age and be challenging to treat with bracing. Larger curves often require extensive surgery which can successfully restore a child's upright balance and allow him or her to sit better.
  • Spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis—a defect of the posterior structure of the spine caused by injury or overuse. It can also develop over time. Many children can be managed with physical therapy. Some require a temporary brace. Occasionally injections or surgery are necessary because of chronic back pain or instability.
A teen at Children's Mercy receives care for bone injuries.

OrthoKids — Developing healthy bone habits for life

Whether you have a question on safety, sports injuries or fitness, OrthoKids can be a great resource for your family. OrthoKids is designed for both kids and parents to learn about different types of bones, bone fractures and how they are treated. All of the information is provided by the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America (POSNA), a professional organization of orthopedic surgeons. Children's Mercy is a member of POSNA.

Spine Surgery - What to Expect

Meet Ellie, a teenager with scoliosis who is having spine surgery at Children's Mercy.

Advancing spine care through research

Children’s Mercy was one of the largest contributors of participants in the Bracing in Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis Trial (BrAIST), a National Institutes of Health-funded study that affirmed the effectiveness of bracing for young people with moderate adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. We continue to be involved in the second phase of the study.

We collaborate with national spine registries to share information and resources within the research and clinical communities.