Orthopedic Surgery

Center for Thoracic Insufficiency Syndrome

The Center for Thoracic Insufficiency Syndrome at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is the first national multidisciplinary program 192-infantile-scoliosis
Scoliosis is the most common cause of thoracic insufficiency syndrome. In the X-ray, you can see the spinal curve is jutting into the infant’s rib cage on the right side, which will severely limit growth for that lung.
devoted solely to the treatment and research of thoracic insufficiency syndrome.

Children with thoracic insufficiency syndrome cannot support normal breathing or lung growth. As they grow, their rib cage and spine do not keep pace. As a result, their chest wall becomes deformed or sunken and the children are in danger of becoming dependent on nasal oxygen or ventilator support to breathe.

A generation ago, outcomes for these children were bleak. But today, thanks to the research and innovation from our Center’s multidisciplinary team, we can offer hope to children with thoracic insufficiency syndrome and their families.

Changing the course of care

Led by world-class orthopedic surgeons Robert M. Campbell Jr., MD, John M. Flynn, MD, Wudbhav N. Sankar, MD, and David A. Spiegel, MD, the center offers cutting-edge treatment for children with spine disorders and restricted lung growth.

Our multidisciplinary team of surgeons, pulmonologists, geneticists, bioengineers and others consider all possible treatment options for children with thoracic insufficiency syndrome.

The most commonly used treatment at CHOP is the vertical expandable prosthetic titanium rib (VEPTR), which was invented by Dr. Campbell. VEPTR is a surgically implanted device that expands a child’s chest, stabilizes spine curvatures and is lengthened with periodic outpatient expansions to keep up with the growth of the child.

Why choose us

Innovation and expertise of our multidisciplinary team

As the first and largest multi-specialty program in the world dedicated to treating thoracic insufficiency syndrome, our team has decades of experience. Each year, we perform more than 100 VEPTR procedures and other growth-sparing surgeries.

Our team includes clinical and research experts from orthopedics, pulmonology, radiology, genetics and more. Together, the team develops an individual treatment plan for your child.

Integrated care to provide the best outcomes

We offer complete care, from evaluation using the latest technologies through implant surgery, expansion surgeries and long-term follow up. Because of our close collaboration with CHOP's Spine Program, we offer a wealth of resources about spine conditions, surgical safety and more. Learn more about the Center's treatment approach, your child’s visit and follow-up care.

Research to uncover lung mysteries

The Center for Thoracic Insufficiency Syndrome works cooperatively with orthopedic surgery, pulmonary medicine, radiology and others in numerous laboratory and clinical research studies. Learn more about our thoracic insufficiency syndrome research.

More information

For more information about thoracic insufficiency syndrome, our treatment approach and more, see The Center for Thoracic Insufficiency Syndrome.

Contact us

To schedule an appointment with the Center for Thoracic Insufficiency Syndrome, call 215-590-3722 or contact us online.


Reviewed by: Robert M. Campbell Jr., MD
Date: February 2013

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Straight Talk: Scoliosis and Thoracic Insufficiency Syndrome

Dr. Cambell talks about the treatment of scoliosis and thoracic insufficiency syndrome.
Watch the video »

Breathing with TIS

 A dynamic MRI gives clinicians an inside view of a patient’s chest and allows parents to see exactly how their child’s thoracic insufficiency syndrome (TIS) is affecting air supply to the lungs.
Watch the dynamic MRI video »

Help for Rare Diseases

The U.S. Conference on Rare Diseases and Orphan Products draws hundreds of families of children with rare diseases — all hoping to find new champions to produce new treatments. CHOP surgeon and VEPTR creator Robert M. Campbell Jr., MD, is mentioned in The Wall Street Journal article. Read A sound bite that can save a life.